Notes: Holy shit, I finally finished this! I'm so happy with myself! This is probably the longest fic that I've ever written for a kink meme (it's nearly 50k!) so far and I'm actually really proud of it. A great big thank you to everyone who's stuck with me for this long and I hope that you enjoy this fic!
Title: Fragility
Fandom: Durarara!
Pairing: Shizaya
Part: final part
Rating: pg13
Words: 7767 words
Prompt: Shizaya, cuddling... Just any IC fluff. ;_;
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?

. final part .

When Izaya woke up the next morning, he was alone. Sunlight was streaming in through the window in bright streaks, meaning that it was probably late in the morning or midday. He wasn't really sure; his internal clock was already messed up from all the sleeping he'd been doing lately and it wasn't like it really mattered.

And besides, he really hadn't expected Shizuo to be there when he woke up. He did have work to do after all; he couldn't spend all his time looking after Izaya.

A soft knock at the door broke him out of his reverie, pushing himself upright, Izaya winced a little as pain lanced up from his knee. Obviously the painkillers that Shinra had given him had worn off, which did kind of suck; he hadn't realized how much it would hurt.

Celty entered the room, a tray balanced in her arms. She wasn't wearing her helmet, but he supposed that she didn't usually bother when she was home. Her shadows swirled up in patterns from the stump of her neck.

Setting the tray aside on the table, she picked up a glass of water from it along with some rather large looking pills. She pressed both into Izaya's hands, pulling out her PDA at his confused expression.

[ You should take those – Shinra's orders. He says that the medication he gave you yesterday should have worn off by now. ]

Well, that explained the pain he was in. Izaya stared at the pills for a few more seconds before he swallowed them and then took a gulp of water. Now he just had to wait for the medication to kick in which could possibly take a while.

She wheeled the table over, letting Izaya place the glass back on it, and gestured at the food on the tray. Breakfast, obviously. It wasn't particularly fancy but Izaya wasn't going to complain – he didn't have much of an appetite and he doubted that he could stomach much.

[ I've got one job to do this morning, but it shouldn't take very long and Shizuo will be stopping by with lunch. If there's an emergency, don't be afraid to text either of us. ] Celty paused for a moment and then added something else. [ I'll leave you my laptop so that you don't get bored. ]

Izaya frowned, she really didn't need to do that.

Celty, of course, seemed to read his mind because she quickly cut him off before he could make a response. [ Mikado has been asking about you lately. I think he's worried. You should tell him that you're alright. He didn't seem to really believe me when I told him. ]

Really, that was the last thing that Izaya wanted to do. He didn't feel like he deserved Mikado's concern after what he'd put the brunette through; after all, he'd been one of the driving forces behind the gang war that had nearly happened. Although, he wasn't too sure if Mikado was actually aware of that, but it wouldn't surprise him so much if he was. The kid was much smarter and perhaps more devious than he looked.

But still the kid was much too forgiving. Especially to those who really didn't deserve it.

Luckily, Celty didn't push the issue. She stuck around to make sure that he ate his breakfast and that he was comfortable before she took the tray back to the kitchen and returned with her laptop and its power cord. Once it was plugged into the wall and Izaya was properly set up, she bid him goodbye after making him promise to let her or Shizuo or Shinra know if there was anything he needed.

Not that Shinra could do too much, he'd been called away on an emergency and probably wouldn't be back until late in the evening. It wasn't too unusual for him.

Izaya stayed away from his usual internet haunts and he avoided checking his email; he didn't want to see the potential mountain of complaints and threats that would probably be there. The underworld could get by without him – they'd been doing fine before he came along.

As limitless as the internet was, Izaya quickly got bored with clicking through various YouTube videos that caught his eye. Not even the infinite time sink that were usually so entertaining kept him as occupied as they usually did – he wasn't even tempted to try and trace a couple of the more interesting posts. He was afraid of what he might find.

Eventually, he wound up on the chat room that he'd used to frequent.

His mind must have been fuzzier than he'd thought because he couldn't remember his password for the chat room. Celty was already logged in, so he just decided that for the time being, he'd use hers until he remembered or set up a new account.

It was with a certain sense of resignation that he signed into the chat room – he had nothing better to do with his time, but he still felt uncomfortable with the entire thing.

Setton has signed in.

Tanaka Taro: Oh, hello Setton! You're not usually on this early, did something happen?

Izaya frowned; he hadn't expected a response so quickly. Despite that it was the weekend, he hadn't expected anyone to be online. Still, he typed up a response.

Setton: Ah, no.

Setton: Setton's out, actually. I couldn't remember my password so...

Tanaka Taro: What? Oh... Kanra?

Setton: ... yes. Hello.

For a few seconds, Izaya was at war with himself between logging out and chickening out of the whole conversation or just continuing on. He could have lied about who he was and pretended that he was Celty, but he didn't think that he'd be able to imitate her perfectly. He felt guilty; he really didn't deserve Mikado's concern.

Tanaka Taro: Are you okay? You haven't been online in a long time. Did something happen?

Setton: Yes, I'm fine. Or at least, as well as can be expected. Just... a lot of things happened that I didn't expect and I'm... trying to deal with them now.

Tanaka Taro: I was worried...

Setton: I heard. You shouldn't be.

Tanaka Taro: Well, I was. Two of my classmates have gone missing and one of them was found recently... I was just worried that, well...

Setton: I heard about that. Setton mentioned it once. I don't know anything more than that.

Tanaka Taro: ... it was pretty terrible. They're thinking it's gang activity or human trafficking.

Setton: Oh.

Izaya had no idea what had happened to him except for a few extremely vague recollections of pain – pain... excruciating pain... make it stop! It hurts! – and the consequences that he was now dealing with. Not to mention an apprehension and fear of crowds and strangers.

But what Mikado had said made sense – that sort of systematic kidnapping and probably torture would be in line with gangs or human traffickers.

He didn't want to think about it.

Tanaka Taro: Are you alright Kanra? You seem... diffferent.

Setton: Ah, well, a lot of things have changed.

There was a pause in the conversation. Mikado was probably weighing whatever it was he was going to say next.

For Izaya, he was nearly scared to death when the door to his room creaked open and Shizuo poked his head inside. He hadn't heard him enter the apartment.

"Sorry, I thought you heard me," he said sheepishly. He held a bag of take-out in one hand while the other tucked his sunglasses away in an inner pocket of his vest.

Izaya gave him a sharp look before glancing back to the screen. Mikado had finally responded.

Tanaka Taro: If you ever need someone to talk to, I'm here.

Really, Mikado was far, far too trusting sometimes. It made Izaya's heart clench painfully and he bit his lip to keep himself from doing anything too emotional that would probably trigger Shizuo's protective streak. He really didn't want to have to deal with a potentially violent outburst right then.

Setton: Thank you.

Setton: Ah, I have to go. My... friend wants my attention.

Logging off quickly, Izaya slid the laptop aside as Shizuo set lunch on the table and tried to help him unpack it all. Ultimately, Shizuo just gently swatted his hands away and set it up himself. Out of one of his pockets he pulled out a small bottle of pills and popped out two of them, which he then pressed them into his hands. The pills were quickly followed by a bottle of water.

"Celty said she gave you some before she left for work this morning and Shinra's orders were that you're supposed to take them with food." Shizuo retrieved his chair from the corner of the room, dragging it over.

After he'd taken the pills, Izaya glanced over at Shizuo, picking his phone up off the corner of the table. -How was your morning?-

"Eh, it was fine; the usual." Shizuo shrugged, "And yours?"


Like most of their meals, their lunch was relatively silent. Celty wound up returning just as Shizuo was cleaning up the mess, gathering up all the containers to throw out or recycle.

"I'll try and see if I can come see you tomorrow," Shizuo said, leaning over and running his fingers through Izaya's hair in an affectionate gesture. "In the evening maybe?"

Izaya nodded. He wasn't particularly surprised when Shizuo pressed his lips to his in a gentle kiss, but he leaned into it and had to bite back the pathetic noise that he might have made when Shizuo pulled away.

Shizuo just gave him a small smile before bidding him goodbye and leaving, telling him to behave or else he might not be able to take him home.

That made Izaya blush and he ducked his head. Out of the corners of his eyes, he could see Celty's shoulders shaking with silent giggles. Clearly she was taking pleasure at his embarrassment, or, god forbid, she found the entire thing to be absolutely adorable. He shuddered a little at the thought of it.

As she seemed prone to do, Celty snapped him out of his thoughts when she gently nudged his shoulder and held out her PDA to him.

[ Did you talk to Mikado? ]

He frowned, but nodded.

[ How did it go? ]

She settled herself onto the side of his bed and despite her lack of a head, Izaya could feel her scrutinizing his every mood. Celty might not be able to lie herself, but she certainly could see through others like they were made of glass.

-It went well. He's too forgiving; it'll get him into trouble one day.-

[ So long as he doesn't get himself into any dangerous situations, I think he'll be fine. ]

Izaya hesitated, fingers hovering over the keyboard of his phone. Even though Shizuo was a welcome distraction – and a good one at that – he'd still had what Mikado had told him floating around his mind and tormenting him from the edges of his thoughts.

Shizuo would dance around the issue no matter what and Izaya was genuinely nervous about bringing the subject up with him – he knew it would always remain a sore point until it was dealt with – because he knew how Shizuo would take it. He had a protective streak that rivalled his strength and, well, he reacted with violence.

He knew those dark looks that Shizuo hid from him when he looked at his injuries, the hurt that lurked behind those warm stormy eyes he loved so much. Shizuo was hurting just as much as he was, and he was definitely still harbouring at least some thought of revenge against whoever was responsible...

But Izaya didn't know who that was.

And it terrified him.

[ Are you alright Izaya? You're awfully... quiet. Did Mikado say something? ]

He bit his lip, fear and worry gnawing at his insides, before he quickly typed up a response. -He mentioned that... that some of his classmates had gone missing.-

Celty didn't seem surprised.

[ He did? Izaya, I'm sorry, but I don't know much more than he does. ]

-I figured. If it's human trafficking or gang activity, then they'd be... pretty secretive about it all.-

This time, Celty hesitated briefly before she replied. [ They found one of the girls. She was... in a similar state to yours... but she wasn't as lucky as you were. ]

She didn't need to say it, Izaya knew. She died.

-I don't remember anything.-

[ Shinra said that the drugs they used probably had something to do with that. He... also mentioned that your mind is probably also blocking parts of it out, to protect your mind from having to deal with that. ]

Even though the thought of it terrified him, made his blood run cold and made him feel like he was teetering on the verge of a panic attack, he still wished that he had something. He hated how scared he was of even just going outside, he could remember that feeling of fear lodged deep in his stomach from when he had gone outside with Celty.

Izaya knew she would never let anyone hurt him, but it was still eating at him from the inside. What if they came back? He wouldn't be able to recognize them.

Celty placed her hand over his, jerking him out of his dark thoughts. She gave it a comforting squeeze and he could picture a soft smile on her face.

[ We'll make lots of good memories to make up for those ones you're missing. You don't need them. ]

She had a point there. At this point, he had only one option: move forward. As difficult and daunting as it seemed, he wouldn't be facing it alone. Shinra would be there to patch up his wounds and make sure that they healed as best they could, and Celty would be there to kick him when he started sinking back down into that dark pit lurking in the back of his mind – she was very good at it – and offering him comfort when he needed it.

And he had Shizuo. That counted the most in his mind. Shizuo wouldn't let anyone hurt him and he would support him through everything – he'd promised he would and Shizuo was a man of his word, Izaya knew that. He felt safe with him; safe and loved. Shizuo wouldn't let him go through this alone.

Celty carefully pulled him into a gently embrace when he didn't respond, their phones lying forgotten between them.

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

Izaya was not going to lie; he was starting to get just a teensy bit stir-crazy. There was only so long that he could spend in bed with nothing to entertain himself. He had the internet and Celty had wheeled in a TV for him, but he couldn't stay focused on one thing for too long.

It didn't help that most of the news stations were either covering the death of that girl from Mikado's class – an exchange student, the reports said – or something equally depressing. Then there were the rumours floating around about Hanejima Yuuhei and his love life...

Izaya did not want to think about the younger Heiwajima. His words still burned when he thought about them.

Mikado, though, was a bit of a welcome distraction. For once.

He'd been worried that he'd have to set up a new account, but he'd luckily remembered his email and he'd simply reset the password. After that he'd simply set up a new email – he didn't need any reminders and wading through five-hundred and fifty-two emails was not appealing in the slightest – and changed it to that.

It was a little strange; he'd never thought that he'd be one for starting fresh. The online handle was just familiar to him. Mikado knew it too and he didn't want to have to go with through the hassle of creating a new one.

Celty spent much of her day by his side, using Shinra's computer since she'd lent hers to Izaya while he stayed with them.

He hadn't been able to tell Mikado exactly what had happened, but he did have to give it to him that he was smart; Mikado pieced much of it together himself. Izaya had made a few mentions of his injuries and he'd been promptly told that he hoped he recovered quickly.

There was also the small problem that Izaya was pretty sure that Mikado might have some inkling that the 'friend' he always mentioned was Shizuo. Of course, he promptly warned him to stay away from Shizuo just because he was nervous about how he'd take some random high school student approaching him and asking him about Izaya.

Izaya wasn't stupid, he knew Shizuo just might snap at him if he thought Izaya was threatened.

It made him smile just a little; it was nice to know that someone cared about him that much. Shizuo could be sweet when he wanted to as well. That was why there was a giant bouquet of flowers sitting in a vase on the sill of his window – to bring some personality into the room, that was what Shizuo had said.

Of course, Izaya had blushed and been a bit flustered about the entire thing. Shinra, on the other hand, had teased him about it almost mercilessly; not even a death glare from Izaya had made him stop.

Luckily, he only had to put up with it for a few more days then he could go home with Shizuo. He'd be in a wheelchair until he'd completely healed from the surgery and his knee was ready for him to go through physiotherapy to get used to walking again.

Everything was changing, but he was adjusting to it surprisingly quickly. Shizuo was very kind and supportive too, which was an added bonus. It also helped him to keep a goal in mind, he wanted to get better for Shizuo's sake; he couldn't always be looking after him and worrying about whether or not he was okay.

If he could make it through the next few days without throttling Shinra, than he'd be fine. Izaya's knee was healing up nicely after the surgery, he'd be fine.

And his appetite was starting to increase, which was another good thing. He knew that the others had been worried over that since he couldn't finish even relatively small portions at mealtimes. He was starting to feel a little stronger too, physically at least.

Two more days... Izaya had been counting them down. Celty was out on business for the evening and Shizuo had promised to drop-in later for a visit and that he'd bring dinner. Shinra was bustling around in another room with one of his 'clients,' leaving Izaya to his own devices.

Which pretty much meant that he was on the internet and chatting with Mikado.

Tanaka Taro: You're in the hospital, right? Or are you staying with Setton?

Kanra: Ah, Setton was kind enough to let me stay with them instead of a hospital. I don't think I could really stomach a hospital at the moment...

Tanaka Taro: Yeah, I don't really like hospitals either. Too many bad memories.

Izaya bit his lip at that, he was partly to blame for putting Mikado's friend in the hospital... after all, he'd set up the events that led up to it with a couple of well-placed words and some dropped information.

Kanra: I'm sorry. About that.

Tanaka Taro: Ah! You don't need to apologize Kanra, it's not your fault.

There you go again Mikado. You're far too forgiving for it to be healthy... He sighed and tapped his fingers on the table before typing up a quick response; he wasn't just going to let this matter die. Izaya was bound and determined to apologize to Mikado.

Kanra: Still. I wanted to apologize for it.

Tanaka Taro: Ah, well, if you really feel like you have to... your apology is accepted.

Kanra: Well, um, thank you.

Tanaka Taro: :) It's nothing. Are you feeling better today?

Kanra: Yeah, I'm starting to get my appetite back and I'm feeling a little bit stronger too.

Bakyura has signed on.

Izaya's eyes flew wide open and his fingers started to tremble as his stomach dropped out. This was the last thing he needed right now. He could not face him like this.

Kanra: Ah, sorry Taro, but I'm going to go now.

Tanaka Taro: Huh? Why? Your friend there?

Kanra: Yeah, something like that.

Bakyura: You scared of me now Kanra? I thought you were dead.

Izaya didn't bother to log out, he simply slammed the laptop shut and shoved the table away.

Awkwardly, he curled up on his side and tried to pull his knees to his chest, but that was too uncomfortable with the bandages and brace he was wearing so he gave up. Instead, he wrapped his arms around himself and bit down on his lip to try and keep himself from crying.

He'd known that he couldn't avoid Kida forever and he knew that he did deserve whatever he wanted to mete out against him. But right then? It hurt a lot more than it usually would. Izaya was vulnerable and he knew that and he couldn't let anyone use it against him. If anyone came after him, they'd go after Shizuo too and he just would not allow that.

That was how Shizuo found him when arrived in the late evening. He found Izaya on his side, curled up and staring at the wall with glassy eyes.

Gently, he smoothed his hand over his shoulder and bent at the waist to kiss him on the temple. "You alright?"

Izaya blinked, pulling himself from his thoughts and self-recriminations. He gazed up at Shizuo and tried for a smile, but it fell when Shizuo saw straight through it and frowned.

Settling down on the side of the bed, Shizuo ran his fingers through Izaya's hair in a comforting gesture. There was a bit of a faraway look to his eyes as he tucked his sunglasses away, but Izaya could tell from the tense set of his shoulders and the frown on his lips that he wasn't happy.

Groping around the bed for his phone, Izaya found it and quickly typed up a message.

-I'm fine, don't worry about it.-

"You look like you're about to cry, don't tell me nothing's wrong."

Izaya wished that Shizuo hadn't chose that moment to be more observant than usual. He bit his lip and tried again with a heavy sigh.

-I am – was – a horrible person. People aren't going to just forgive me for what I've done. It's pretty obvious that a couple of them are going to be happy about... this. Because I deserved it.-

This time, he didn't miss the twitch in Shizuo's hands. He was definitely not happy about this and Izaya knew better than to drop names – he wasn't about to let Shizuo's protective streak get out of hand. This was something that he just had to accept, like Izaya had.

"Izaya, I told you this before. You did not deserve anything that was done to you. No one deserves that. No matter what they might have done before."

To that, Izaya had no response.

"Look, I can't say that I expect everyone to just, you know, forgive you. But I don't want to hear about them insulting you or threatening you. I nearly lost you once, I don't want to see them tear you apart again."

Shizuo was very pointedly staring at his feet, "It scared me. Honestly, I was terrified when I saw you like that... I thought that I would lose you and it wouldn't be because of your injuries."

With a small frown, Izaya reached out and caught Shizuo's hand, tangling his fingers with his and giving it a comforting squeeze. Typing with just one hand on his phone was difficult, but he eventually managed it.

-Thank you. For everything.-

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

Izaya wound up spending the reminder of the week and part of the next one with Shinra. There were a couple of complications from the surgery and he needed to start on physiotherapy so that he'd be able to walk again. Izaya wasn't looking forward to that, but he put up with it.

And Shizuo continued to be as supportive as ever.

He'd gotten rather speedy in his wheelchair though, even though Shinra's apartment really wasn't all that wheelchair friendly. But Izaya was good at managing to navigate himself through the various obstacles.

Since the majority of the bandages had come off, Izaya had a bit more freedom when it came to his movements. Although, this meant that all of his newly acquired scars were on full display. Izaya had insisted on wearing long-sleeves because he just hated seeing them because he felt that they just made him ugly and he was still very insecure about whether Shizuo was attracted to him with them.

It was sort of confusing and Shizuo didn't really understand the reasons. For the most part, he just thought Izaya was being stupid about it.

He let out a heavy sigh; Izaya was tugging on the sleeves for what seemed to be the hundredth time in a single hour.

"Stop it." He gently grabbed Izaya's wrist, halting his movement.

Izaya's head snapped up and he looked at him, red eyes wide.

"You're going to irritate your skin or something if you keep doing it. I don't think they're ugly." I might hate the site of them, but it has nothing to do with you.

Biting his lip, Izaya looked down at his lap before picking up his cellphone once Shizuo had released his wrist. -I don't like them. I mean, you...-

"I wish you'd stop being so stubborn, Izaya," Shizuo replied, slumping back into the chair with an unlit cigarette dangled between his lips – Shinra had forbidden him from smoking in his home. "I've told you, I don't mind them and no, I don't think they make you any less of a person either. That would kind of be stupid."

-What do you mean?- Izaya tipped his head to the side in a gesture of confusion. Shizuo had to quickly look away because it was just such an utterly adorable sight.

"Well, I, um, I've got a couple scars myself, actually." Shizuo shuffled a little uncomfortably in his seat; he knew that his cheeks were flushed. Of course he had scars – Izaya had given him one or two of them, actually – but getting shot really didn't leave much in the way of smooth skin. "And trust me, some of them are pretty nasty to look at. Though, I guess it's better to have a scar than to be dead."

The smile he got from Izaya at that was a small one, but it was genuine. Shizuo couldn't help but return it.

-You don't have as many though.-

Shizuo shrugged, "Probably not, but I think mine are a lot worse. They're kind of prominent. Yours will fade in a couple months or so – they won't be as noticeable. And they'll get better over the years too."

-Do you know that for sure?- Izaya was leaning forward in his wheelchair, almost dangerously close to toppling out of it, in fact.

"Hey, careful!" Shizuo gently nudged him back into his seat, ignoring the look Izaya was giving him as he did. "And yeah, I do. I have a couple from when I was younger and they're not nearly as bad as they used to be."


"Yeah. Here, I'll show you."

Shizuo quickly rolled up his shirt sleeve, revealing his right arm. He turned it over and showed Izaya the flat of his palm. Pointing at his palm, he indicated a very thin, faint white line across it.

"I punched through a window at school once, sliced my hand up pretty badly, but this is pretty much all that's left of it."

Izaya looked at it in fascination. It wasn't just Shizuo's palm which bore one of those faint scars, in fact, his entire arm looked to be an intricate latticework of them. They were very faint, but the raised skin caught the sun and cast small shadows.

"Ah, yeah, I've still got some from that whole Saika incident." Shizuo shrugged. "It's not a big deal."

-Are there more?- Izaya was certain that there were more of them, but he realized with a blush that if there were... oh.

Shizuo blinked and then nodded slowly, "Yeah, there's more."

He rolled up his other sleeve, revealing more of the same pale, criss-crossing scars. They formed an intricate pattern which stretched past his elbow, Izaya couldn't help but stare at them.

Shizuo's scars were faded while his own were still a bright, angry red. He knew, deep down, that eventually his would fade and start to look like that too, but right then it was hard to picture. And... the ones around his wrists and his neck... they'd always be ugly and horrible to look at.

"Hey, cheer up, okay?" Shizuo shifted a little, clearly a little uncomfortable. His cheeks were a little flushed. "You've got to stay positive or Shinra might make you stay longer."

Izaya shuddered. -Don't say things like that!-

"I was kidding. But seriously, though, you need to start cheering up a little more. You get to come home with me in a day or two, but you have to keep up with the therapy that Shinra's given you or else we'll both get in trouble with him."

-I know.- Izaya had to shove down a blush and a thrill of warmth that threatened to swell inside his chest at the mention of 'home.' He'd never really had a place to call home before, not in the sentimental sense at least.

It made him happy.

"... anyway, Celty said she stopped by your place a couple days ago. Your... uh, assistant? Anyway, given how long you've been away, the place is being sold, but Celty managed to grab some of your clothes before she threw the rest of your stuff out."

Izaya frowned and shrugged. -I'm surprised she didn't do that sooner. Namie's not exactly a very nice person.-

"Yeah, but you're not going back there."

There was a certain finality in his voice, and Izaya knew that he'd have to be a stronger – and stupider – individual than he was to do that. He didn't think that he'd be able to just leave Shizuo like that, he'd become far too important for him to do that.

-I know. I didn't plan on it.- Too likely a chance that – but no, he cut that thought off before it was fully formed.

"If you need anything new, we'll just buy it for you. It's not a problem." Shizuo just shrugged it off and leaned back in his chair.

The sun, which was quickly sinking behind the skyscrapers, was bringing a red tinge to the world. Shizuo's hair was glowing an almost violent, bright gold. Izaya also noticed that, when he glanced down, his skin looked almost healthy again.

He almost didn't notice the bright red scars marring his wrists that poked out from under his sleeves.

Subconsciously, Izaya tugged at the sleeves of his shirt, pulling them down further to hide the scars. He simply stared down at his lap, trying not to look at them and trying to keep Shizuo from noticing his movements.

Shizuo's hand was on his arm again, stopping him from fiddling with his sleeves any more. "Stop. You're going to peel the scabs or something and then Shinra'll get mad at both of us."

Izaya let out a heavy sigh. It was going to take quite a lot of time before he was comfortable with his scars; they weren't going to fade for a while and he was going to live with them until they did. And beyond that.

Since he was so wrapped up in his own dark thoughts, Izaya wasn't fully aware of when Shizuo gently prying his fingers out of the fists they'd become. He only really noticed what Shizuo was doing when the blond leaned in and raised Izaya's hand up, letting the sleeve slide down and reveal each of the scars there.

Feeling his cheeks burn, Izaya glanced nervously between Shizuo and his arm, fighting back the urge to tug it back out of Shizuo's hold. But there was something about the firm set of his jaw and the determined look in his stormy eyes stopped him.

Very carefully, almost as though he was afraid that Izaya would bolt at any moment, Shizuo placed a soft kiss on the first scar, then the next, and another. He continued to do this with each visible scar on Izaya's wrist, then repeated it on the other.

By the time he was finished, Izaya's face resembled a tomato and he was trembling.

Shizuo shifted forward in his seat, gently tugging Izaya forward by his arms so that he could pull him into a tight embrace, lips brushing against Izaya's cheek as he did so.

"These change nothing. I still love you." Shizuo's lips softly touched Izaya's ear as he spoke, the words carving themselves into Izaya's memory.

Izaya's shoulders were shaking and he felt like he was about to cry, but he absolutely refused to let the tears fall. He wanted to be strong again, for Shizuo, so that he wouldn't always be worrying him about his mental state or that he was going to be okay. He didn't want to feel like he was a burden to him.

But he wanted him to love him, because he loved him.

The two of them stayed like that for what seemed like an eternity. Eventually, Shizuo pulled back and cupped Izaya's face in his hands, thumbs brushing away the glistening moisture at the edges of his eyes with a small smile on his lips.

Izaya couldn't help but flush, his cheeks taking on a delicate pink glow that looked much darker in the light of the setting sun. But he did manage a small, but genuine, smile for Shizuo.

Thank you.

There was so much that Izaya wanted to thank him for that he never thought he'd be able to. After all, there were still so many complications and road blocks that were still ahead of him and he knew too well that his recovery wasn't going to be an easy one. Things would never go back to the way that they'd been before.

And he was okay with that.

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

Walking again proved to be the most difficult part of Izaya's recovery.

His muscles were weak and just moving a short distance proved to be exhausting for him. But he was slowly making progress and gradually building his strength up again. It was adjusting to the limp which was taking much more time.

Shizuo was supportive and understanding; he wanted Izaya to take his recovery at his own pace. Shinra, on the other hand, wanted to push Izaya's boundaries a little more – for his sake, he insisted.

"You can't spend the rest of your life locked up inside, you're going to have to leave sometime," Shinra said. "And I'm not saying to go and do something adventurous. I mean something simple, like, maybe a short walk. You can take Shizuo and Celty with you. You just need to get out more; it'll help you build up your strength."

That was something Izaya had been avoiding almost religiously. He hadn't been outside since Celty had brought him back to Shizuo's apartment. The thought of going outside was terrifying to him.

He purposefully stared at his hands. -I don't think I can do that.-

Shinra let out a heavy sigh, "Look, I know this is scary, but you have to face it sometime, Izaya. Shizuo will be with you. And Celty. You won't be alone."

-You're going to make me do this, aren't you?-

"I'm going to keep bothering you about it, yes, but I won't force you." Shinra's shoulders slumped a little bit. "It's just... you can't keep letting your fear control you. That's the same as letting them win."

This was a delicate topic with Izaya and while he did tense up, this time he didn't feel that overwhelming fear that he'd felt before. There was still a sense of anxiety about the entire thing that had settled into the bottom of his stomach, but then he took a deep breath and thought of Shizuo and that helped.

He felt safe with Shizuo. He felt stronger.

Shinra had a small, triumphant smile on his face when Izaya finally let out a defeated sigh.

-Fine. I'll do it.-

"Great!" Shinra beamed at him.

-But I think I'll just go with Shizuo. For now.- He quickly amended that statement at Shinra's look. -If anything happens, I'll make sure that I let Celty know. But I'll be fine with Shizuo. Are you doubting that he can keep me safe?-

"That has nothing to do with it. I just want to make sure that you're okay. Celty's been worried about you too; she keeps asking if you're okay. Just spend some time with her too."

-I know.-

Um, for those who might be wondering about what Izaya's limp looks like, I used Mayu from Fatal Frame II as a reference. So you can just YouTube the game or something to see what it looks like. Also, I have no idea why I've been so tired lately...

Conversation after that died down quite a bit. Shinra had to leave shortly thereafter when he got a call from one of his clients and Izaya kept glancing nervously at the clock. He knew that Shinra hadn't meant that he had to get out right then, but he wanted to get it over with as soon as possible.

That way, maybe he could build up his courage enough to do it more frequently.

Shizuo would be off work soon. Izaya took a deep breath and quickly typed in a message to send him.

-Shinra wants me to get out. Do you want to go for a walk after you're done work?-

The response was pretty quick. Izaya didn't doubt that Shizuo normally wouldn't have cared or bothered to check his phone before, but now he seemed to do it religiously. Only difference now being that he'd respond immediately to any message Izaya sent him. It was rather sweet and it made him smile.

-Do you feel up to it?-

Izaya let out a soft sigh of amusement. -I think I can handle it.-

-Alright, I'll be home soon.-

Well, that was that. Now all Izaya could do was wait and hope that he wouldn't have a panic attack and back out of this – not that Shizuo would hold it against him, but he'd feel bad about it. This was one way for him to feel strong again.

His stomach was churning a little uncomfortably, so he got up off the couch and slowly made his way over to the kitchen to make some tea. He pointedly ignored the minute trembling of his fingers as he did; Izaya already knew he was something of a nervous wreck about this.

The tea helped. Its smell and heat relaxed him and he slumped forward just a little as he leaned back against the counter; his muscles relaxed and a feeling of calm settled over him.

I can do this, he kept telling himself. I can do this.

He was still nervous when Shizuo arrived, but he felt much better about the entire thing having had some tea and time to relax and calm down. Taking deep, measured breaths, he walked out of the kitchen.

"Hey. You sure about this?"

Izaya nodded as he struggled a little bit with his shoes. He heard Shizuo chuckle and that just made him scowl.

"Do you need some help?" The question was sincere and Izaya could hear the concern in Shizuo's voice.

He shook his head; he needed to start doing things for himself. And in any case, he'd already managed to get his shoes on. He was just glad that Celty had got some that were easy to pull on and didn't have any laces – he was a little embarrassed that he hadn't noticed that before.

With his shoes on, Izaya stood up and gave Shizuo a smile. He was ready.

Shizuo held the door open, letting Izaya out first before he closed the door behind them and locked it. He offered Izaya his hand – an almost unconscious gesture – which Izaya took immediately, latching onto it tightly with both hands. Maybe it was a little weak, but he was going to take support when it was offered.

The walk down the hall to the elevator was slow, but Shizuo didn't complain. Instead, he just quietly supported Izaya, helping him when he stumbled and asking if he was alright when he did.

And Izaya did find it a little bit annoying, but when he saw the concern smouldering in Shizuo's eyes, he couldn't find it in himself to be irritated. Maybe he would eventually, but right then, he was glad for it.

His breath caught in his throat when they came to the door leading outside. But Izaya paused and closed his eyes, taking a long, deep breath before he opened them again and took his first, firm steps outside.

Shizuo gave his hand a gentle squeeze and a warm smile, which folded Izaya with a sense of confidence that he needed.

The sun was setting over the horizon and disappearing behind the buildings all around them, leaving behind a faint light that cast everything in an orange glow. It was rather pretty and peaceful, despite the sounds of traffic and people filtering to them from the busier streets. There were a few other people on the streets, but since this was largely a residential street, there wasn't as much traffic.

Even so, Izaya couldn't help but glance nervously at the people that they did pass. When he did, Shizuo would give his hand a gentle squeeze and tug him closer until Izaya was practically plastered to his side.

And he said nothing of it.

That made Izaya feel guilty and he glanced down at his feet. He wasn't sure what to do.

Izaya must have zoned out for quite a while as he tried to figure out what he should do, because he was startled out of his reverie by Shizuo gently tugging him around a corner to a small, abandoned playground.

There were still a couple of people milling around the streets, but with the last rays of light fading over the buildings, the streets were quickly emptying out. As this area was largely composed of apartments, there were only a couple of stragglers making their way home after a long day and several going out for a night on the town.

Noises from the busier streets filtered down through the various streets and allies, but it sounded muffled and distant. The blaring sounds of a siren echoed through the near silence of the evening air.

The two of them settled down on the swings, which creaked loudly as they did so. Shizuo gently nudged his back and forth with his foot digging into the gravel as he did; Izaya, on the other hand, just tightly held onto the chains, staring at the ground.

He wasn't sure what to do.

"Are you feeling okay?" Shizuo was watching him closely, looking for any sign that Izaya wasn't comfortable – that he was afraid.

Izaya shrugged, releasing his grip on the chains of the swing to reach for his phone in his pocket. He held it in his lap for a few moments while he sorted out his feelings. It was hard to communicate what he wanted to, but he'd do his best.

-It's hard to explain... but I feel fine. Just a little bit sore; I haven't been this active in a long time.-

Shizuo nodded, "Well, it's just something that'll take some time."

-I feel safe with you.- Izaya's cheeks were a pale shade of pink at that.

That just made Shizuo smile and he gently placed his hand over Izaya's and gave it a squeeze, "I'm happy to hear that."

For several long moments, the two of them just sat there in the growing silence. Street lamps flickered on and the remaining light from the sun faded from the sky, leaving it a deep, pitch black. Soon, the only light illuminating the park was a single street lamp nearby.

Izaya watched as the light faded from the screen of his phone, turning it over in his hands a little. He wasn't sure what to say, but he didn't want to break the comfortable silence that had settled over the two of them.

Eventually, Shizuo broke it. "We should probably head back now; it's getting late."

Izaya nodded and tucked his phone back into his pocket and made to stand up. Unfortunately for him, his knees shook violently and his legs gave out under him. The gravel dug into the palms of his hands and his legs painfully.

"Here." Shizuo crouched down next to him, easily scooping Izaya up into his arms as though he was a small child. "Comfortable?"

Izaya nodded and snuggled a bit closer; Shizuo was warm and his arms gentle. The rhythm of Shizuo's heart was in his ear and his movement was regular; it didn't take too long until he started drifting off to a sort of half-wakeful state.

He was comfortable and he felt safe. He could get through this, he told himself, so long as he had Shizuo at his side.

Shizuo seemed to eerily echo his thoughts, "We'll get through this, Izaya. You'll see."

And he knew they would; he would.


Again, a great big thank you to everyone who has been with me all this time! I hope that you've enjoyed this and that you'll stick around for the sequel, Survivor's Syndrome, which should be posted sometime in the relatively near future.

*bows* Thanks everyone! You've been wonderful. 3

Now, I have other fills to complete and other projects to get started. Thanks to everyone and I hope to see you again when the sequel is posted!

Lastly, reviews are always greatly appreciated! Thank you muchly!