Notes: Because of LJ's character limit and just how damn long this fic has turned out to be, I'm posting it in parts to make it a little more bite-sized and easier to manage.
first part
Rating: pg13
Words: 3241 words
Disclaimer: It's not mine. It all belongs to others who I am in no way associated with and I make nothing from writing this, got it? The song isn't mine either; it's by Tsukiko Amano (specifically, it's titled Koe).


If you come close enough
For me to fall into the depths,
I'll become a shadow
Wandering the endless darkness

I only remembered the days that weren't granted to us.
You're not here. I know that. I know that.

Sometimes the idiotic flea really manages to piss him off. Well, piss him off and scare the fucking daylights out of him at the same time. It's sort of complicated to explain and Shizuo never wanted to bother with it; he doesn't like having to justify himself to others beyond a couple of words or maybe a sentence or two.

Izaya was not supposed to turn up on his doorstep bleeding, broken, and quite possibly permanently damaged. That was not supposed to happen. No one lays a hand on his flea and gets away with it. Although, revenge would have to wait because that wouldn't stop Izaya from bleeding out in his doorway and he still had to explain to his land lady why there was blood all over the hall and elevator that led to his door.

Eventually she'd left him alone, and one rather frantic – for him anyway – phone call to Shinra had him rushing over with Celty in tow.

There were a lot of questions, none of them knew what could have happened, only that it had and now they were left with an unconscious Izaya who was currently occupying Shizuo's bed and looking so much more fragile than he ever had before. And that was saying something because Shizuo had seen the brunette at his lowest and he'd seen him hurt before, but those times were never like this.

He could have died.

Hell, he should be dead. That's what Shinra told him. He'd lost so much blood, the injuries had been so severe... Shizuo refused to think about it.

Shinra had wanted to move Izaya to his apartment since he had the equipment there to better deal with the situation – fuck, he'd wanted to take him to the hospital it was that serious – but none of them could come up with a way to get him there without possibly jeopardizing his already delicate condition. Eventually Shinra had settled for instructing Celty to go back and retrieve some extra things that he would need.

In the end, that still left Shizuo with a critically injured Izaya who he was terrified to touch for fear of breaking him further.

Kneeling at the side of the bed, all Shizuo could hear was the quiet beeping of the heart monitor that Celty had brought and Shinra had hooked up to Izaya – he didn't ask how she'd gotten it there, he really could care less. Apart from that and the steady sound of breathing that, though shallow, filled the air the entire apartment was dead silent. Shinra was collapsed on the couch in the living room and Celty was probably with him too. Shizuo wasn't prepared for guests, so he had nothing more to offer them than a couple of extra blankets that he'd had to dig through the hall closet to find.

Shizuo had propped his head up on his folded arms, just watching as the informant slept. He watched the way his chest rose and fell, took in how his eyes looked sunken and there was an ugly dark bruise on his cheek. He had never looked more human.

He had never looked more fragile.

That cut Shizuo deeply and made his head hurt along with that ache that had taken up residence in his chest. For as long as he could remember, Izaya had always seemed so indestructible, so... untouchable. He'd been a constant in Shizuo's life, and he couldn't imagine what life would be like if he just stopped existing. It was hard to digest, much less comprehend.

This wasn't Izaya.

The pale skin stood out in the darkness, marred by bruises and bandages that had already started to soak through with red in some places. And he looked small in the bed – surrounded by blankets and with so many needles stuck into him that he was sort of like a pin cushion but that analogy just made Shizuo wince.

Almost absently, Shizuo reached out and took one of Izaya's hands in his, mindful of the many needles and tubes that he was attached to. He noted how small it seemed in comparison to his – hell Izaya had always been smaller than him, always so much more delicate but that was sometimes easy to forget – and how cool it was.

In his chest, his heart thudded heavily and there was a painful lump in his throat. His eyes burned.

He choked when he thought of how Izaya had been before. All those images that he could call up with such painful clarity that it just made that agony in his chest even worse.

Anger was the dominant emotion that he felt; anger at the people responsible, at Izaya for getting himself into the fucking situation in the first place, but mostly at himself for being so god damn useless. Fuck, if he'd just done something like be there or anything than Izaya wouldn't fucking be like this and he wouldn't feel like he'd just had his heart torn out. He was just that pathetic that he couldn't stop someone he cared – no, he loved – about from getting hurt, nearly killed for that matter.

Heh... I'm more messed up than I thought, falling in love with the stupid flea.

Fuck, he couldn't deny it; not when every fibre of his being was thrumming with it. For whatever reason, it was true. But that didn't make the pain any better, in fact, it only made it hurt more.

A choked sob forced itself out of him, and after that he just couldn't stop himself.

The tears coursed hot and heavy down his cheeks as he hunched over, clinging to Izaya's hand tightly but mindful not to crush it. Sobs ripped from his chest, but he ignored them and instead focused on that agony in his chest that would just not go away and got worse the more that he thought about Izaya and how he'd been.

The images tormented him, reminding him of how helpless and weak he truly was. He was pathetic, unable to protect the one he loved and now the guilt and anger and self-loathing were tearing him apart from the inside.

Why? Why give me this strength if I can't do anything with it? The tears kept falling. He couldn't stop them now even if he wanted to – his reputation could go to hell for all he cared, he just wanted Izaya to be okay. He wanted him back and he would trade anything for that.

Shizuo wasn't sure how long he stayed like that, just crying and waiting and hoping and praying that Izaya would just open his eyes and everything would be alright and go back to how it was. He fucking didn't care if the flea still thought of him as being nothing more than a mindless oaf, he just wanted him back. Shizuo wanted him alive and whole and as annoying as ever because he was so important to him that he just could not picture – could not dream of – life without him. Izaya was as vital to him as breathing.

The steady beeping of the heart monitor kept him grounded. It gave him hope. Right then, all he could hope was that Izaya pulled through this alive. They could work on piecing everything else back together later.

And he would be there, even if Izaya wanted nothing to do with him. He would spend the rest of his life trying to make up for this. Maybe that would be enough to satisfy that ache of guilt in his chest.

He was startled out of his silent mourning and apologizing by a light tap on his shoulder.

Celty stood right behind him, PDA in hand. She held it out to him, the screen glowing bright in the darkness and made him blink.

[ This isn't your fault. ]

Whatever response he might have had, it stuck in his throat. Celty knew him so well that it would be pointless to try and argue with her.

He still did though.

"Like hell it is."

Somehow, he could imagine her frowning and she would have smacked him for his stupidity – that much he was sure of – if she wasn't so concerned about him.

[ You couldn't have done anything to prevent this. So don't beat yourself up over it. ]

Shizuo said nothing. Despite her words and the grain of truth that some rational part of him could see in them, they didn't alleviate that burning agony inside of him nor did they stop those feelings of hatred and despair that were clawing violently at him.

[ Izaya makes his own decisions. As ugly as it is, he has to live with the consequences of them. You couldn't have stopped him and you couldn't have protected him either. All you can do is be there for him and hope that it's enough. ]

Celty paused briefly before typing up one last message.

[ He is very lucky to have you. Even if he might not deserve it. ]

Again, Shizuo said nothing. Celty reached out and gave his shoulder a comforting squeeze before leaving. She closed the door quietly behind her as she did.

Even with her words, Shizuo couldn't shrug off the guilt that he felt. Maybe it was irrational and stupid to feel that way, but he couldn't stop it. His rational side was being overpowered by the whirlwind of emotions that he felt; the sudden culmination of his feelings and the realization of what they meant was still eating at him.

Somehow, he thought, it shouldn't have been turned out like this. He should have spent his entire life in the dark about how he felt for Izaya instead of having it all dumped on him right when there was a very good chance that he would lose him forever.

Life wasn't fair. Life was a fucking bitch, actually.

What was he? Some kind of chew toy for whatever divine power was out there? He was getting tired of being yanked around for some unseen figure's amusement. At least Izaya was relatively upfront about that and at least he had some reason for how he'd turned out that way. Fucking hell, life just couldn't give them a break, could it?

Before this, Shizuo couldn't picture them as having a healthy relationship by any definition. They were too fucked up and mismatched for that to be even a slim possibility. Add into that the fact that both of them were convinced that they hated each other – although Shizuo had been disillusioned to that now – and were determined to see the other dead.

Except, Shizuo wasn't sure if he actually had it in him to kill anyone; much less the flea. And Izaya wasn't much better off in that area either.

That wasn't important though. What mattered most right then was praying that Izaya would wake up, that he would get through this – that they would get through this. The sentimental crap could wait until then.

The night passed agonizingly slowly for Shizuo. But despite how exhausted he was emotionally, he refused to let himself fall asleep. Once he was sure that Izaya would recover, then he'd consider it, but...

He was afraid of what he might dream of. His mind was already doing a great job of torturing him, he didn't need to add in what his subconscious thought or what horrors his nightmares could conjure up for him. That was something that he could live without. Celty was already worried about him, he didn't need Shinra on his back too.

Until then, though, Shizuo sat through an uneasy vigil at Izaya's side.

Holding Izaya's hand in both of his, Shizuo could see how his hands were visibly trembling. What stood out to him, though, was how the veins under Izaya's pale skin stood out. Although, it was startling to see just how white his skin looked in comparison to Shizuo's; he'd lost so much blood... even with the transfusion that Shinra had given him there was a still a high possibility that his body would just give out under him.

A number of the bandages were stained a dark shade of brown by the time that the first bit of sunlight filtered in through the curtains. Shinra would probably come in shortly to change the bandages.

Shizuo looked at the bandages that almost completely covered Izaya's arm from his wrist to his shoulder – he could still remember all of the blood dripping off, the arm hanging practically uselessly at his side.

He blinked, forcing the image to the back of his mind.

Even though he was no medical expert like Shinra, he'd picked up a few things from him and from having to resort to treating his own injuries over the years. Besides, if Izaya did pull through this, Shizuo was quite sure that he would be the one to take care of him.

He might not have been the sharpest tool in the shed, but he was usually pretty good at catching onto things quickly. And if that meant having to change bandages – among other things – then he could do that.

Carefully, Shizuo pulled Izaya's arm towards him. Shinra had left all of the bandages and a slew of other medical supplies on the night stand. The garbage can which had been dragged in from the bathroom was full of bloodied cotton swabs and gauze, along with a lot of blood-soaked bandages.

Even if it had been unnecessary, Shizuo had taken Izaya's bloody and torn clothes to the roof and burned them. He didn't need anymore reminders. It had been both cathartic for him and also had cut him deep to realize just what had been done to the informant.

The rest of the garbage he could leave for Celty or Shinra to take care of.

Shizuo took a deep breath, trying to steady his nerves as he carefully snipped the bandages and slowly began to unwrap Izaya's arm. He felt his stomach churn just a little as the horribly cut up skin was revealed. Most of the cuts had scabbed over but a few of them oozed as the bandages were removed, forcing Shizuo to apply fresh gauze and some antiseptic to the cuts.

Chucking the blood-stained bandages into the garbage bin, Shizuo took a fresh roll from the night stand and carefully began to apply them to Izaya's arm. The process was slow and gave him far too much time to stew over just how horrible all of the injuries were.

He'd leave the stab wounds for Shinra to treat since they were far more serious, but Shizuo could still change the ones that dotted his arms, legs, and neck.

Whatever restraints had been used had left deep abrasions on Izaya's ankles and wrists – Shinra was certain that they were from ropes – and there were, horrifyingly, similar marks on Izaya's neck. The welts on his neck weren't as deep as those on his ankles or wrists, but just seeing them had Shizuo seeing red.

Whoever had held Izaya had definitely wanted to make certain that Izaya wouldn't escape. Not without forcing him to horribly mutilate himself at the least. And Izaya had managed to get away. Somehow he'd managed.

Shizuo froze as he carefully smoothed the bandages over Izaya's other arm as yet another realization hit him.

Izaya had come to him. He'd escaped from whatever hell he'd been trapped in and sought him out for whatever reason. Instead of looking for, say, Shinra who obviously would be both better equipped to deal with his injuries and arguably a much safer choice. After all, Shizuo had never done anything but attempt to kill Izaya in the past.

So why would he come to him?

Does... does he really trust me that much? Why me?

Returning his gaze to Izaya's face, he took in the features with a new appreciation. His heart felt oddly lighter in his chest, but it was still accompanied by that ache that had been there for hours. It still pounded heavily in his chest, but the lump in his throat had lessened somewhat.

The bruising and lacerations around one of Izaya's eyes meant that it was covered by a bandage, held in place by the elastic strings which looped over his ears. It was almost creepy how he looked like a mummy, so much of him was covered with bandages, and the parts of him that weren't were either white as a sheet or covered in ugly bruises that had a purplish-blue hue to them.

Gently, Shizuo reached up and brushed his hair back from his face; the tips of his fingers brushing against Izaya's forehead as he did so. It was warmer than he remembered, but still not nearly healthy enough. But it was an improvement.

He'd take what little consolation he could in that.

Turning his attention to Izaya's neck, he was about to begin on the bandages there when Celty reappeared in the doorway.

She took one look at the clean bandages and Shizuo who was frozen in place with his hands stretched out above Izaya. With a droop to her shoulders reminiscent of a sigh, Celty walked over and smacked his hands away.

[ Leave that to Shinra. Right now you need a shower at the very least. ]

"What? I'm fine."

[ Shizuo, you're covered in blood and you're exhausted. I can't tell you to sleep because I know you won't, but at least take a little bit of care of yourself. I'll watch over him while you're gone. ]


[ No buts. He will still be here when you get back. ]

Celty slid her PDA back into her sleeve and crossed her arms. If she'd had a head, Shizuo could imagine her giving him a stern look. Shizuo was, for a moment, half tempted to ignore her and just continue to remain where he was, but it just seemed easier to just do as she ordered.

Besides, the blood had long since dried on his clothes and hands. He probably didn't make for a very reassuring sight.

With a sigh, Shizuo pushed himself to his feet. His clothes gave off a soft crunching noise as the dried blood came loose from the creases as he did.

But before he left, Shizuo reached out and smoothed back the bangs which had fallen back over Izaya's face. On a spur of the moment decision, he leaned down and pressed his lips to the brunette's forehead.

And even though he knew that he couldn't hear him... "I'm here for you. As long as you need me."

If these words ever reach you,
I'll take my living body and throw it away
A 'now' that has erased my vivid wounds
Your warmth that steals everything
I longed for them, I searched for them.
Even though they're illusions.

Vanishing, vanishing, your warmth
Follows me to this place
Your arms that could wipe away even punishment
I want to sleep as they embrace me.

.:-o-:. .:-o-:. .:-o-:.

Apparently, I'm good at twisting what should be a short and sweet little fluffy fill into something full of lots of angst and horrible consequences (yes, I'm well aware that I'm evil). But I'm enjoying myself far too much to stop.

If you're wondering, the entire fic is actually in a single file; at the moment of typing this author's note, Fragility is officially at 24 093 words and is forty pages long. It's my monster fill – none of my others have been this long.

By the way, this fic is getting a sequel. I just thought I would mention that. And reviews are always appreciated and encouraged.