...

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In which there is Secretary Shizuo and Informant Izaya, Blacklists and Beautiful Women, Crabs on Burning Trees, and Beasts for Show

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"Matsumoto Hiroto, age 33, has a girlfriend. Name is Kimiko Aiko. Works as a receptionist in Hilton Tokyo. Matsumoto is part of Sumiyoshi-kai, allied with Kudo-kai. Has been embezzling company's funds for Yakuza activities since the start of the year - what a bastard. I pity his girlfriend."

"His girlfriend isn't exactly innocent either. She's an undercover assassin. Birds of a feather flock together, wouldn't you agree?"

"...Whatever."

"Ah yeah, alter the status to unconfirmed."

"Hah?"

"The dead or alive status."

"...You did something to this guy?"

"Not me. Didn't you see the Yakuza war on the news? He was involved in that war since his gang was involved, so I have no idea if he's dead or alive. Well if Matsumoto-san is dead by fire, it would certainly infuriate Nozomu-san, since that guy has been embezzling and burning out his company's funds."

"You say his girlfriend is an undercover assassin - sure she wouldn't seek you out for her boyfriend's death?"

"I don't know what you're talking about. But is that concern I hear for me? I didn't know you cared!"

"Shut up. Although it would be amusing if you were killed by a woman, you're mine to kill. I'd be fucking pissed off if I had to fight and hurt a woman to save your shitty little ass. And don't lie, the Yakuza war you got the Mafia Boss involved in is that one."

"...Well, it seems you've gotten some information of your own last night. Fine I admit, it's my doing, but if Matsumoto-san is dead it's not my fault, and Kimiko-chan wouldn't know. Neither would Nozomu-san. My job is to provide information to my clients, I'm not responsible for any coincidences that happen, that Matsumoto-san is found dead just after I provide the information. Although you see, Nozomu-san's reaction would be amusing to see. And Kimiko-chan's reaction too, ah but since Shizu-chan is so graciously possessive over me for some unfathomable protozoic reason, he can be rest assured, I won't tamper with assassins for a while. So Shizu-chan can still keep his life philosophy of not hurting women. Aren't I such a kind man?"

"Kind? More like cowardly. Stop messing with people's lives, shitty flea."

"But it's so fun! Everything else is so boring...don't you think so? That's why, human observation is such a fun hobby!"

"Sounds more like an euphemism for stalker to me. Oi where the hell do I put this? You need any more information?"

"Oh wow, big word. Looks like Shizu-chan has been brushing up on his vocabulary. That would be almost admirable - if you were human."

"Answer the damn question!"

"How impatient. I don't require any more information, my memory is sufficiently refreshed. Put it in the blue file."

Izaya said with a smirk as he typed the email out, glancing at Shizuo out of the corner of his eye.

"...What the hell is this? Some alien language?"

"I suppose it would be an alien language to you. But it's Russian to people like me."

"I don't know shit about Russian, where the fuck do I put this? Why the fuck is it in Russian anyway?! This is Japan!"

"Because some records can only be accessed in Russian, since I'm seeking information on people from Russia. I'm sure there's a brain in your head since we're able to communicate, so why don't you use it?"

Izaya was amused as Shizuo glared at him, squinted his eyes at the Russian words, and let out a growl.

"Flea..."

"The Crow and the Elephant. Protégé of the Killing Machine, seventh deadliest assassin in Russia. Now where do you think you should put it?"

"How the hell would I know! Now cut the crap and tell me before I tear the paper to pieces! Or actually, I should just smash the whole damn thing -"

"The black file. Put it there. Oh, put information on the Crow at the very top, just before Yodogiri Jinnai."

"Yodogiri the last one then?"

Izaya's lips curved.

"No, even though he sent me to the hospital. Next is Tsukumoya Shinichi but he's not the top either -"

Izaya stopped speaking, just as Shizuo started -

"The fuck, flea?! Heiwajima Shizuo? WHY THE FUCK DO YOU HAVE MY INFORMATION?"

"Because I'm an information broker of course, and - hey! Don't read it!"

"Has a protozoic brain, but has unusually sharp instincts, can switch from calm to angry at an abnormally fast rate..."

"Shizu-chan! Give that to me!"

"...You really are a stalker. The fuck? I don't even know this much about myself!"

"Because you're a protozoic brain - now put that aside. Or better yet, give it to me."

"Sharp instincts? More like I just know when you're up to shit in Ikebukuro."

"Yes yes, now hand that paper over!"

Shizuo blinked, looked at the annoyed expression on Izaya's face, then gave Izaya the kind of taunting smirk the flea would usually give him.

"Come and get it then."

Izaya twitched as Shizuo waved the paper as if he was the dog in their cat and dog relationship.

His sharp eye caught the words on several papers on the table and he snatched them up, mentally berating himself for being so careless.

"Oh I'm not going to participate in something so immature as that. Look why don't we have a bargain? I'll file these papers for you and lessen your workload, if you would kindly return that piece of important information to me."

Izaya smiled charmingly at Shizuo, who blinked twice as if processing what he had just said.

"...Important, huh?"

"Unfortunately."

"I see. So those papers are important information too? More information on Heiwajima Shizuo? Huh, Orihara Izaya?"

"…That is irrelevant. Now do you accept the bargain or not?"

"Nah. I can think of something better."

"And that is?"

"You give those papers to me, and I'll return this one to you. Do we have a deal, flea?"

Izaya looked conflicted, but eventually replied.

"I'm afraid not. These papers are worth more than that one piece of paper. It would be a foolish deal to make."

"So it is more information on me. Now I'm curious. You know, I have a right to prevent my information from being circulated."

"They aren't being circulated. Only I have your information, for only I need to know your information."

"…..."

"For, information purposes of course. Don't misunderstand."

"…Fuck. That's creepy, flea. Now I want to tear those papers to pieces!"

"No you can't - this is important information and I won't allow - hey! Shizu-chan!"

Izaya protested as Shizuo pounced on him, grimacing as the brute pinned him to the couch and held his hand out expectantly.

"Those papers. Now."

"No."

Shizuo grinned insanely, as a vein throbbed warningly in his temple.

"Then, I suppose you want another trip to the hospital, huh Izaya-kun? You should have told me you were in the hospital you know - I would have come and give you a nice visit - to Hell. I'd be freeing a hospital bed for a guy who deserves it better, don't you think?"

"Charming. But as you can see, I'm well and alive, and I don't appreciate your monster being trying to steal away my information from me –"

"It's my information, so I damn well have the right to take it back!"

"–Without payment, no less. Oh and yes, I was expecting a visit from you while I was in the hospital – sadly you're always unpredictable and I couldn't frame you for destroying the hospital and trying to kill a wounded, helpless patient."

Izaya directed a taunting smirk at Shizuo as he said this -

Who was no longer on top of him but on the floor, holding papers in his hands.

"...…"

Izaya realized his hand suddenly felt empty.

"Ha, flea! Letting your guard down. Now let's see -"

Shizuo sidestepped as Izaya lunged at him, turning and giving the information broker a grin over the papers.

"Now Shizu-chan, there's nothing there that you don't already know, so why don't you return those to me?"

"Because I like seeing you angry...Izaya-kun."

"...!"

"And I don't have a good memory, so reading this will help refresh it a bit. Oh yeah I'm also your temporary secretary, so I should know about this Heiwajima Shizuo guy who's important enough to be on the top of the blacklist of the information broker of Shinjuku, right? Haha! Now if I were him, I would be pissed, but also amused. I'm sure he doesn't keep any information about you -"

The man in a bartender suit dodged the information broker again and held the papers high above his head, too high for the other man to reach.

He smirked and moved the papers out of the way when the flea jumped in a futile effort to reach them.

"What's wrong, Izaya-kun? Having a little trouble?"

He emphasized on the word 'little', receiving a glare from the shorter man.

"I don't appreciate your wit. Now if you would be so kind as to drop those papers, maybe I won't stab you."

Izaya said with a sharp smile, irritated that the brute was using his height to his advantage.

He also didn't appreciate the jab at his height.

He wasn't short, not at all - it was Shizuo who was too tall.

Since he was a monster after all.

In response to his threat, Shizuo blinked and spoke as if feigning innocence –

"But Orihara-san, I'm your secretary. I'm not sure why you're so interested in information you already know, but it's my job to file these papers. Now why don't you show me where Heiwajima Shizuo's File is and you can get back to your work? As you always say, you must be a busy man."

Izaya gaped.

Shizuo had spoken in such a tone that had Izaya not known any better, he would have thought the brute had suddenly gained amnesia.

It was Izaya's eyebrow that was twitching as he glared at the amused glint in Shizuo's eyes.

Who knew the monster could act?

Certainly not him. He would have to add this important piece of information in his records - once the monster secretary was gone.

"That's very...considerate of you, my dear secretary. But you see, Shizu-I mean, Heiwajima-san, last I checked your name was Shizuo, and it's such a coincidence that your name is the same as Heiwajima Shizuo's, isn't it? Too much of a coincidence for me to believe. Now give me those papers and I'll file it in Heiwajima Shizuo's File - if there was one. Since there isn't one, I'll take care of them myself, you have no need to file the papers in Heiwajima Shizuo's File, my responsible secretary. Since it doesn't exist."

"…So it does exist?"

"It doesn't! Don't flatter yourself!"

"Tch you're no fun, flea. But still, no."

Shizuo said with a smirk, all innocence in his face and eyes gone.

Izaya tackled Shizuo.

He brushed away the slight pride of having been able to take the monster of Ikebukuro down to the floor and focused on retrieving those papers which were causing more trouble than they were worth - which was why he didn't know why he had to take them back. Other than the fact that he didn't want Shizuo to be in possession of them.

"Hah! Getting desperate, are you flea? It's just a few papers!"

"I can't let you have Heiwajima Shizuo's information, Heiwajima Shizuo! You certainly wouldn't give me any information about yourself! That information is mine, I took effort and precious time I could have spent on my humans instead to find it, it belongs to me! Now stop playing around and give them back!"

Izaya said in the frustration he couldn't resist from showing as he wrestled Shizuo for the papers he couldn't allow the monster to have.

"….Middle school? The hell, you have been observing me since we met?!"

"Shut up!"

Izaya was annoyed as Shizuo's gaze accused him of being a stalker. Which he was not. He was merely observing. He had to observe the monster, since the monster was not human, and he had to have information about something which was not human. Even if it took away his precious time he could have spent observing his humans.

Not wanting Shizuo to see that he had information about him since even before he had met him (it was all Shinra's fault for introducing him to Shizuo, really), Izaya took his knife out from his back pocket and stabbed Shizuo in the shoulder.

He knew it wouldn't do much damage, but it did make Shizuo's gaze automatically turn to where the wound should be. And as Izaya had planned, gave him the chance to snatch back those papers on Shizuo out of Shizuo's hands.

The information broker smirked in triumph as his goal was accomplished, and in the midst of removing himself from the monster's body, was forcefully tugged back down and spun as his back slammed against the floor.

Izaya gave an involuntary wince, but retained his tight grip on his prize.

"Now who's the desperate one? You should be grateful I don't circulate your information. People do ask, you know. Like that one reporter…"

Izaya trailed off invitingly, as Shizuo's eyes flashed.

"Bastard came to you? Fuck, pisses me off. You told him to find me, DIDN'T YOU?!"

Veins appeared on Shizuo's face as he seemed to recall the incident where the man had tried to make him mad with Orihara Izaya's name.

"So it wasn't him who was trying to make me mad, it was you! Tch, should have known it was your doing, FUCKING FLEA!"

The floor of Izaya's apartment suddenly had a hole that was bigger than Shizuo's fist. But Izaya only sighed.

"As a matter of fact, no. I told him to find Celty, you know, the Black Bike - and she directed him to you. But you wouldn't blame her, would you?"

"Even worse. Don't get her involved in the shit you do!"

"As usual, you always find some way to blame me."

"'Cause 99% of shit that happens in 'Bukuro is your fault, shitty flea. But I'll be kind. Hand over the information you have on me and I won't tear it to pieces. Then your effort wouldn't be wasted, eh?"

"That would be worse than having my effort wasted. But it seems you don't want this information to be torn to pieces either. How surprising."

Shizuo opened his mouth, but Izaya continued on leisurely.

"So, you can't snatch it away from me. Well, we can remain like this forever, I'm a very patient man. So let's be locked in this passionate stalemate until one of us gives in - which will be you."

Izaya's lips curled into a deceptively sweet smile at the twitching monster above him, as he stretched his arms as if he had all the time in the world.

"…I-iizaaaayaaaa..."

"Yes, Shizu-chan?"

Shizuo ground his teeth against each other, making Izaya smirk in satisfaction.

- Now this is more like it

"IZAYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

"No matter how passionately you scream my name, I won't hand over my information to you."

"How about I kill you and take it away from you?! Dead fingers are easier to pry apart, HUUUUUUUH?!"

"Be my guest, but I won't die so easily, in my own territory, no less. If that's how you want to repay your debt."

Shizuo let loose a low growl. Izaya smirked up at him.

"Now won't you get off me? You're heavy. And you're frightening our guest."

"Guest?"

"Oh I forgot, a protozoic brain like yours wouldn't be able to multitask. Kimura-san, you can come in."

The man who had been standing awkwardly jolted in surprise.

"Am I interrupting something?"

He said with the awkwardness his posture revealed as he looked at the two men on the floor in a compromising position.

"Oh, not at all. I do apologize for the lack of a proper door."

"No that's fine. I…this is Orihara Izaya's residence, yes?"

The man said uncertainly, as if he was unsure if he was at the right place. Izaya waved at him from where he was pinned onto the floor.

"That's correct. Information broker Orihara Izaya here, at your service. Well, I would be at your service, if I wasn't in such an uncomfortable position…."

"….If you're busy with something, I can always come back another time."

"I wouldn't want to trouble you. And I'm not busy, just…occupied. Right, Shizu-chan?"

Shizuo growled.

"…I see you have reverted back to your animalistic instincts. But I'm sure you can at least process the fact that it would be rude to keep our guest waiting."

"….Tch!"

Shizuo released Izaya and stood up, not looking happy at the interruption at all, who gasped at the sight of a bartender suit.

"H-Heiwajima Shizuo?!"

"What?"

Shizuo said with a glare, as Izaya stood up smoothly from the floor, smirking as he clutched the papers in his hands.

"N-Nothing! I was just surprised, that's all!"

"Tsk!"

"Now my dear secretary, your job is to file papers, not frighten our guest."

"Go die."

"S-Secretary?"

The man stuttered as he watched the blond man stomp off to where the couches were. He winced as he received a cold glare from the monster of Ikebukuro.

"Orihara-san, he looks like he doesn't want me here. I'm not sure why he's here, but –"

Izaya held up a hand to stop the man's nervous speech.

"Don't worry about it. He's always like that, well what do you expect from such a beast?"

He said loudly, as Shizuo spoke from the direction of the couches.

"Oi flea, I'm taking this."

"…Suit yourself."

Izaya said with a crooked smile as Shizuo held up the piece of paper which had started the whole mess.

Technically, it was him who had started the mess by giving Shizuo a mess to clear up, but to Izaya, it was Shizuo's fault for being unpredictable and creating a mess for him to clear up.

That piece of paper was just a summary. Although it would be annoying to let Shizuo have information about himself that Izaya himself had organized and picked out, it was less detrimental than the beast getting hold of the papers in his hands, which contained much more elaborate and detailed information.

Shizuo looked at him, then turned away with a scoff. Izaya couldn't tell what he was thinking, so he turned back to his client.

"….He's your secretary? Orihara-san, I thought your secretary was a woman."

The man sounded disappointed, and Izaya was amused.

"Well yes, my secretary is a woman, this is just temporary. Quite the beauty, if I might say so myself. Oh don't worry, if you enlist my services in the future, you'll definitely be able to see her, though I can't guarantee her interest in you."

Izaya said as he spoke flippantly about his beautiful secretary, who would no doubt be annoyed with him if she found out Izaya had used her in such a way, for she was interested in no man but her brother.

"Oh really? Oh of course she wouldn't be interested in a mediocre man like me, though no man would pass up the sight of such a beauty. She must be quite the beauty, if you say so. After all, Orihara-san is quite a handsome man himself!"

Kimura spoke as he laughed lightly, and Izaya's smile widened.

"Well yes, I'm quite the looker, according to various women. But unfortunately, even my charm has no effect on her, she's quite the ice queen. You know, the cold type of beauty."

Izaya said casually, observing in amusement as the man's countenance seemed to light up.

"O-Oh, is that so. Ahahaha, well I would hope not! After all, Orihara-san is definitely more charming than I am, so if she hasn't fallen for your charm, I might not have a chance!"

The man said jokingly, but his eyes spoke of relief unsuited to his words.

"Oh I don't know. It seems she hasn't fallen for my charm, but you know, women are hard to read sometimes, even for an information broker such as myself."

Izaya said with a breezy smile, watching in glee as the relief faded out of the man's eyes.

"A-Ah, I see…."

There was a snort.

Izaya would have ignored it, if the monster in his apartment had not spoken.

"Tch. You just love to mind screw people don't you? Seriously, I don't know how Namie lives with you….suddenly I respect her more."

Izaya would have replied, but his client beat him to it.

"Namie? Is that her name? What a pretty name. Heiwajima-san, are you interested in her as well?"

"Oh don't worry, Kimura-san. Shizu-chan isn't interested in Namie, he barely knows her. In fact, he was aware of her existence just today….although, she's just Shizu-chan's type."

"Shizu-chan? You mean, Heiwajima-san's type? She must be really beautiful then!"

"Haha. I meant, it's because she's older than Shizu-chan and Shizu-chan's only interested in older women….right Shizu-chan? So he isn't interested in his cute little kouhai or Aka-"

Izaya ducked to avoid the file that crashed the wall.

"Now now Shizu-chan, secretaries aren't supposed to throw their work around. You could learn a thing or two from Namie."

"How the hell do you know about Vorona?!"

"I don't know who you're talking about."

"Vorona's my kouhai, dumbass! How the fuck do you know about her?! YOU DIDN'T DO ANY SHIT TO HER, DID YOU?!"

Shizuo looked ready to throw the couch at him. Izaya bent and picked up the file, a wry smile on his face.

"I didn't touch a single strand of hair on her pretty blonde head. So if you want to kill me, don't kill me for something I didn't do. She certainly wouldn't kill me for anything but you."

"If you hurt her, I'll kill you."

"Even if it's for self-defence?"

"Self-defence or whatever, I'll kill you! DON'T YOU FUCKING DARE INVOLVE THE PEOPLE I CARE ABOUT IN THE SHIT BETWEEN US!"

"…I don't care if you believe me or not, but I really haven't done anything to her. Yet. So stop with your false accusations Heiwajima Shizuo, while it's amusing, it's also getting to be insulting."

Izaya said with a smile on his face, but his eyes were narrowed in warning as he threw the file in his hand at Shizuo, who caught it with his hand.

"After all, your cute little kouhai has a life you don't know about. Why, she may even be an assassin."

"Like hell. And I might not know much about her, but I know she's not like you. Vorona may have secrets like everyone else, but she's not a fucking coward like you. If she's an assassin she's one for a good reason not like you with your twisted plans for humans. She's strong and she gained her strength with her own efforts. I admire and respect her, so if you do anything to her, I will kill you."

Cracks appeared on the file in Shizuo's hand, and Izaya spoke.

"I see. Well, we'll see about that."

He said, half wishing the information about the Crow aka Vorona had been in Japanese instead of Russian.

He could always let Shizuo know of her true identity and of her own twisted nature regarding humans and their fragility, but he was currently irritated and was in no mood to speak to the unreasonable monster at the moment.

Izaya would have wished for Vorona to kill Heiwajima Shizuo, had Shizuo not been his to kill.

There was silence as sparks flew between the two most dangerous men of Ikebukuro, and the outsider hesitantly spoke.

"Uh…."

"…My apologies. It seems we got carried away. Oh Kimura-san, I do apologize for the lack of my beautiful secretary's presence, but I would hope you came for more than that."

"A-hahaha…of course, of course!"

In his nervousness, Kimura reached out his hand to pat Izaya's shoulder in an effort to lighten the atmosphere, only to freeze as he felt a scathing glare which chilled his bones.

"–Then, this way please, Kimura-san. We should keep our affairs in order, withhold our temptations, and talk of beautiful women later. I'll extend the appointment a little, since he and I took up quite a bit of your time."

"Gu-h…gu-gug-gugguh…."

"….Kimura-san?"

The man snapped back to his senses as the information broker looked at him curiously. He seemed unaware that his temporary secretary was trying to set his client on fire with his glare alone.

Realizing his hand had frozen in mid-air, Kimura drew it back and brought it to the back of his head, laughing nervously.

"R-Right. Sorry, I was lost in thought for a moment there! Do lead the way Orihara-san."

The handsome raven haired man with beautiful features looked at him as if trying to read his thoughts, but lifted his slender shoulders in a shrug and walked smoothly in the direction of his desk.

"Right. This way, then."

The information broker who looked way too young to be an information broker of the underworld spoke nonchalantly, and the man trailed after him, stepping hesitantly as he felt as if his back was about to catch fire any moment, or the floor would burn if he stepped too hard.

- A-Ah….all I did was talk about Orihara-san's beautiful secretary!

- What did I do to make him so angry at me?

- Does he think it's my fault he and the informant had an argument?

- I thought that was normal for them….

"Is something wrong, Kimura-san?"

"N-No, nothing at all….!"

The black haired male looked at him suspiciously, just as mutterings filled the room.

"Kill..kill…..KILLL…"

"Eeeeeeeeek!"

"….Don't be rude, Shizuo."

The information broker said in a tone that made the man in a bartender suit look away and scoff to himself, muttering something unintelligible under his breath.

The client looked as the raven haired man settled on his chair behind his desk, placed the papers in his hand down on his desk, and look to him with a smile.

"Now let us get down to business, Kimura-san. How can I help you?"

Sweat slid down the man's face, as he shifted uncomfortably from the burning sensation on his back.

And as the man stood in between the two most dangerous men of Ikebukuro, he wondered if he should have listened to his horoscope and rescheduled the appointment to another date.

Apparently, Cancer have an especially bad relationship with Aquarius today.

However, he hadn't thought there would be an Aquarius in the appointment, since the information broker of Shinjuku didn't seem like one. And he had hoped that beautiful secretary of his wouldn't be an Aquarius, a sign incompatible with him.

He didn't know whether to be more surprised that his horoscope was actually accurate, or that the monster of Ikebukuro was actually an Aquarius.

Next he knew, the information broker of Shinjuku would be a Taurus - which was what he would have thought the violent man in a bartender suit would be.

- I have a feeling this is going to be a long appointment….!

- That is, if Heiwajima-san doesn't kill me by then…..

- …And here I thought Aquarius was supposed to be the water man..…

"I'm waiting, Kimura-san."

The man grimaced, and forced himself to keep eye contact with the sharp eyed information broker he had come to seek, instead of the secretary on the couch who was not a beautiful woman but a man who could rip him apart with his bare hands.

"W-Well, you see…."

"Hey, flea."

"…"

"Oi, flea!"

"If there's a flea on one of the papers just sweep it away or crush it like you do everything. Just don't crush my information."

Izaya said blandly. Kimura had left, and he was sorting through the information on Heiwajima Shizuo, wanting to ascertain he had everything in his hands.

"Though, I have no idea why you're trying to communicate with a flea. Since obviously, fleas can't talk. They just hop around and cause trouble."

"…"

Shizuo didn't quite know how to reply to that.

"…Izaya."

"What?"

Izaya had leaned down to pick up a piece of paper that had fallen onto the floor, and the iciness of his voice permeated through the metal of the desk.

Shizuo clenched his fists, and took a deep breath.

"…Sorry."

Izaya fell off his chair. Literally.

Orihara Izaya losing his balance rarely happened, but so was Heiwajima Shizuo apologizing to Orihara Izaya.

In fact, Izaya himself would vouch that he had never ever expected an apology at any time from Heiwajima Shizuo, and he could lose his perfect balance a hundred times before Shizuo would ever apologize to him.

"?"

Shizuo turned his head at the sound, blinking.

"…Izaya, where are you?"

There was no reply. Shizuo filed in one more paper then stood up and made his way over. He found the information broker on the floor behind his desk, looking as if he had just seen something that surprised even him.

"What the hell are you doing?"

He said, and hooked his arms under the flea's shoulders and lifted him up to sit him back down in his chair.

The skin contact seemed to shake Izaya out of his daze. He moved his arms and Shizuo removed his hands, looking down at the raven haired male.

"You alright?"

He asked, moving his hand to the flea's forehead as his eyebrows furrowed.

"You have a fever or something? You're kind of red."

"I'm fine."

Izaya pushed his hand away, and Shizuo watched as he turned away, his expression hidden as he spoke.

"So...sorry, huh?"

"Yeah. Sorry, for falsely accusing you for something you didn't do. That was wrong of me. Even though you've done that to me - hell, I don't know why I'm apologizing, I'm just sorry alright?!"

Shizuo spoke hurriedly, feeling vaguely embarrassed at having to apologize to Orihara Izaya, the man who had made his life hell.

"A-Ahh–hhh...…"

He watched as Izaya turned back to the front. His back slouched and he leaned back in his chair, putting his arm over his eyes as he spoke with a smile.

"Shizu-chan is apologizing, huh?"

"Yeah?"

"This is why I hate you."

"Huh?"

Shizuo said, feeling his apology had gotten rejected as Izaya, with his eyes still hidden with his arm, spoke.

"You're so unpredictable. You aren't supposed to apologize to me. I would have preferred if Shizu-chan and I continued our cold war."

Shizuo moved to speak, but Izaya was still speaking –

"Seriously, what to do with you? You upset all my expectations. Why did you apologize, Shizu-chan?"

"Hah? That's 'cause I did something wrong, so when you do something wrong, you apologize."

"Even if it's to me, whom you hate the most?"

"…Yeah. Though it pisses me off. But though I was pissed off you were pissed off too, so that was my fault."

"What about pride?"

"What pride?"

Shizuo said, annoyed that Izaya was trying to find out the reason for his apology instead of just accepting or rejecting his apology like a normal person would.

"…It's nothing."

"…Right. Something wrong with your eyes? Why are you covering them?"

"That's because I can't deal with the sight of Shizu-chan's face at the moment, it would be too much stimulus."

"What the hell? Speak Japanese, flea. Whatever, so I guess that means you don't accept my apology, tch well at least I tried."

Shizuo shrugged, turning to walk back to the couches where he had left his work, only for his arm to be grabbed by Izaya's hand.

"Idiot protozoan."

Before Shizuo could satisfy the temptation to break Izaya's hand, Izaya spoke again.

"…Thanks, Shizu-chan."

"…"

"Sorry, since Shizu-chan was acting like a civilized human being, I forgot for a moment that he has a protozoic brain unable to comprehend subtleties."

"…"

Shizuo was still staring.

"That means I forgive you. Ah seriously, what is this, what the hell is wrong with me? Whatever Shizu-chan has caught must be contagious –"

"If you were like this more often, maybe we might even be able to get along."

"…Contagious indeed. I'm not sure what you mean by 'like this', I'm always me. There's only one me, Orihara Izaya, the man Shizu-chan hates the most."

"…Tch."

Shizuo scoffed as Izaya let go of his arm. He turned, to see Izaya with his eyes revealed and a smile on his face that made Shizuo's expression freeze and his heart pound.

If he didn't know any better, Shizuo would have said Izaya almost looked happy.

Not the usual glee he displayed or that twisted excitement, but happiness and a sense of contentment seemed to emanate from Izaya's being.

Without thinking, Shizuo reached out and placed a hand on Izaya's hair.

"…Shizu-chan? What are you doing?"

Shizuo said nothing, merely looked into Izaya's curious eyes as if seeing him for the first time –

And willing to do so.

"You piss me off."

And then Shizuo smiled, meeting Izaya's surprised eyes as he casually said his next words –

"But I guess…fleas wouldn't be fleas if they weren't fleas."

He ruffled Izaya's hair then turned and strode away to the doorway, calling out to the still man behind him.

"I'm going out for a smoke."

"Ah yeah..."

Shizuo had not said anything sentimental or anything that could touch Izaya's heart. He had not said, 'Stay the way you are' or "Don't change' or "I like you the way you are', like some humans Izaya had observed and been amused by.

Thus, Izaya did not know why he felt strange, as his heart was beating in the way it usually beat in exciting, dangerous situations with his humans and in fights with Heiwajima Shizuo. And why he felt as if he had been accepted even though he had no desire to have been, especially if it was by the only one whom he did not consider human.

"Excuse me?"

He blinked and turned, to see a man heading towards him.

"Orihara-san, I'm here for the appointment -ow."

"Ah, my bad."

The man winced slightly as he bumped into the fortissimo of Ikebukuro. He only knew this when he raised his gaze and caught sight of the towering man in a bartender suit.

"G-ahhh- H-Heiwa –"

"Yeah yeah, Heiwajima Shizuo here, good day to you."

Shizuo said, as if he was annoyed at all of Izaya's clients overreacting when they saw him.

"G-Good day...?"

The man stuttered, then crept slowly forward away from Ikebukuro's Automatic Fighting Doll as he looked towards the information broker of Shinjuku.

"Uh Orihara-san, why is he here?"

'Is this really safe' - the man's expression seemed to convey. Izaya blinked again, as if he was trying to clear his mind of the surrealistic experience that had just occurred - and then smirked, straightening on the chair and looking his usual composed self as he waved a hand –

"Oh be rest assured – you have nothing to fear. That beast over there is just for show."

"WHO THE HELL IS FOR SHOOOOWWWWWWWWWW?!"


Kimura is a common Japanese last name and means 'tree village'. Hence the title 'burning trees', with Cancer as the Crab. Matsumoto is also another common Japanese last name, and means 'base of the pine tree' hence Izaya's cynical allusion to fire. Also, kudos to those who got Izaya's pun and double meaning at the end. Even though he wouldn't admit to the second meaning.

This is getting longer than I expected, so I may transfer the notes about each chapter to my profile. If they're gone, you know where to find them.

There's also fanart for this story. Near the bottom of my profile, under Stories. Progress of my stories is also posted there, because it seems more organized that way. It's for the scene in Chapter V. Do take a look at the artist's awesome work :)