Author's Note: Well, we've finally made it. This is the very last chapter(s) of Chronic. It took months to write, but I'm glad I was able to finish. But what makes me even MORE glad is that people really enjoyed reading it for all it's length and constant angst.
Originally, I only intended for this story to be 50 chapters long on the kinkmeme, but somehow, I got to 127 and over 85,000 words. That's the most I've ever written for one story, I'm pretty sure. I mean, I write a lot about all kinds of stuff. Everything. But writing like this - and finishing - always makes me feel pretty accomplished. I'm so glad I was able to hold your interest, and thank you SO much for all of the kind words, favorites, and alerts.
With this final chapter, this story is complete, but there's no way I'll forget the experience I had in writing it, and what I got out of it from both myself and readers. It's a good feeling. So thank you.
I really hope you enjoy this final bit.
I'm not running away anymore. No more pushing back those who want me. No. I'm ready for this. I don't have to be alone.
"When did this idea spring into your head?" he asks me.
"I'm not sure…" I slowly confess, "I just began thinking… thinking that you're with me all the time as it is. That I want to be with you… and it happened…"
"It's a big request…"
"I know…" I agree, not including the part where I only just acquired the idea forty minutes ago. It's one of those things that should be heavily taken into consideration; sincerely thought about.
I just… I don't believe I'll be changing my mind…
Shizuo brushes my bangs out of my eyes, forcing me to look at him. "Are you sure it's something you want?"
"Look… if you don't want to… it was just a stupid idea. I get it if you'd rather be here…"
"It's not a stupid idea," he disagrees, "And if it seems like that's what it is, sorry… I'm sorta overwhelmed right now."
"Me too…" I breathe heavily… tugging at the hem of the brown shirt I have borrowed from the blond.
I try to think about the fabric. I try to tell myself that sepia isn't my color, and that I'd look much better in red or black, because, in doing so, I don't have to think about the possibility of dragging myself into another mess.
And then… if a mess is what this is… if a mess is what this will become… I know, without a shadow of doubt, that Heiwajima Shizuo would be there to help me clean it up.
In order to eliminate some of his stress, he unknowingly makes me envious as he lights a cigarette. "I dunno that you're ready…"
"Me?" I gape, hiding any agreement that he may be right. That is the last thing I want, whether or not it happens to be true, "Shizuo, I'm the one asking!"
"I know… but…"
So with everything I have, it's my turn to read him.
"Would you be ready?" I wonder, watching him jolt in his seat.
I give him a moment to think, relieved when he finally gets his thoughts at least organized enough for a conversation, even if a direct answer isn't possible at this time.
"I would be, yeah… It's just… I dunno if I can…"
"How do you not know?"
He shrugs. "Izaya, I dunno if I could afford it."
That seemingly immortal nervous pit awakens, expanding throughout my stomach. "What do you mean by that?"
"I can't just… move in like some sorta freeloader," he grimaces. "I don't even like that I get a discount on this place…"
"How is it freeloading if I want you there?" I attempt to comprehend his strange logic. "I'm asking you to live with me. It isn't as if you're crashing on my couch for one night, if only to eat all of my food and never leave… Besides, you work."
Rubbing his eyes, he tries to figure out how to explain what I simply cannot figure out on my own. I feel like an idiot.
"What kinda cheap boyfriend does it make me if I can't pay my share of the rent?"
"Rent?" I nearly scoff, "Shizuo, I own that loft."
"And you paid for it with your money! I can't just move in somewhere for free after you spent so much."
"You can if I'm inviting you."
"Again…" he keeps up the argument as if to show off his pride. I don't want money to be so important, but he feels differently. "What sort of man does it make me if I'm unable to pay to take care of you?"
"Ne?" Suddenly, I want to laugh. "Shizu-chan… I'm a grown man; not a girl. I don't need you to take care of me, or treat me like some clumsy, little housewife who cooks for you all day while you're at work. Aside from recently poor health, I do pretty well on my own."
I almost want to cringe, perhaps even puke, at those words. "Pretty well" is a severe understatement and we both know it. No twenty-four-year-old should be as well off as I am, especially after being out of work for so many months.
"That doesn't mean I wanna skip out on it! It isn't an excuse!"
"Nobody is making excuses. Remember what I told you - you give me what I need; not what I want. I wanted an apartment in Shinjuku. So I bought it. But you… I want you… and I need you. So I'm asking you to live with me."
I take his face in my hands, silently telling him with my eyes to let down his walls of pride just as I have done for him over and over again.
"I refuse to live off of you," he tells me, mastering all seriousness.
"Fine," I agree, "Since the place is already paid for, we'll split the bills."
"Cleaning and groceries too," he adds on his own accord, leaning forward to kiss me.
I can tell he's still a bit unsatisfied, but he'll get over it eventually. No matter what his testosterone-filled ideas tell him he needs to do, we're doing this as a team.
"Really, I never would have imagined I would see you two like this," Kadota passes Shizuo a box from the back of Togusa's van.
They've been helping us move Shizuo in all day today, and none of them seem to be over the shock. In a sort of comedic way, it surprises me too, especially given the past. But I don't want to think about what has been. I'm too eager to look forward to what will be.
My future with the guy I used to hate.
"I told you they were meant to be~" Erika sings from within the van, using a bright pink camera to snap shots of me and Shizuo every time we're within a meter of each other.
I swear she could teach a class called Fujoshi 101. One in which she'd probably be the writer of the text book, and violate the minds (and eyes) of young girls with stalker-quality photos of young men who do so much as stand too close to each other.
"Anything is possible, I suppose," Walker shrugs with an innocent smile on such a mischievous face.
"But this! This was totally destiny!" the crazy otaku girl flails about, and I swear I see pounding hearts in her large, round eyes.
Shizuo simply shakes his head, amused by the insanity.
"Regardless," Kadota says with a smile, "I'm glad you two worked things out. Calms things down in this crazy world, doesn't it?"
"Or fills Erika-chan's mind with filthy yaoi thoughts," I tease, loving the way the girl almost acts as a cheerleader for my relationship. She even goes as far as to "squee" at my teasing words.
"I think that's the last thing I want to think about," he scoffs, "No offense."
"None taken. Just don't come to me a month from now, telling me you regret passing up the opportunity."
Kadota deadpans for a moment. "What?"
"You totally could have had this!" I grin, wiggling my body as if to flaunt my "stuff."
"Anyway, here's the last of them," my friend hands me a final box with a large roll of the eyes. "We'll get out of your hair."
"Thank you," my boyfriend and I say in casual unison.
"We'll call you about dinner," I add.
"Russia Sushi, right?"
"You got it! Eight o'clock… presumptively."
Shizuo and I wave a pleasant goodbye to our friends, eager to see them later tonight.
It was the blond's idea… Spending time with our friends in that familiar, strange restaurant, and I agreed, feeling that it has been much too long since I have paid Simon and Dennis a proper visit. As for the rest of my them – friends or not – I feel that it has simply been too long.
Celty comes by for work and to get paid. Shinra is there every Tuesday to check on me. Shiki-san calls me with jobs, while Akabayashi-san insists on a casual conversation. And my sisters… To actually spend time with any of them, and catch up…
Never having it before never got under my skin too much, but it was as if the world did a back flip the minute that bat came into collision with my skull.
Loneliness isn't a part of my life anymore. Even as the same Orihara Izaya I've always been, I do admit that some things have changed for the better.
I told Celty once that I could change my personality if I wanted to. The fact of the matter is that I didn't… not until I realized what I had to lose. Even against my will, I found myself coming face-to-face with my demons, changing for the better without losing myself or anyone else in the process.
I suppose that's what revelations are all about. Positive change. Doing what's right for yourself because it's good for you, if nothing else.
As he manages to carry six boxes in his strong arms, I stick with my one, happy to have it out of the way (read: on the floor) by the time we reach my apartment. It feels good, silently observing this image of Shizuo's things slowly being dispersed around my home; thus making it ours. I'll even go as far as to say that I am confident in the belief that never again will I sleep alone. Never again, will I face my fears in solitude, but confide in this man - this man whom I love - when they threaten to steal the best of me.
Just accepting that I love somebody has been so surreal, like some huge gust of wind stealing me away before I can catch my balance.
Is this what it's meant to feel like?
Am I supposed to experience this sensation that life is zipping past me at impossible speeds, leaving me flailing to catch up? I do not want to miss a beat nor a breath. I want to memorize every fucking second as if it were the last.
Is it meant to be an entirely new take on insanity?
"Six months ago, would you ever have imagined this?" I ask Shizuo, opening his box of DVDs to add to my shelf.
For now, I won't worry about the lacking alphabetization. In fact, I plan on having Namie handle it on a different day. Miscellaneous placement is fine for now.
"No," he shakes his head, "But when I kissed you for the first time, I sorta hoped it would…"
Pacing over to me, he shoves the box of disks away with his foot, stealing their place on the floor.
By the look in his eyes, I know it was all worth it. From my misadventures with Kishitani Shinra, to being bashed in the skull. Every moment. Every breath. Scandal. Lie. Missing influences. Heartbeat. Heartache. Childhood nightmares. All of the pain and insecurities.
Chronic migraines becoming chronic love.
One disease slowly melting into another, showing us just what we've been screwing up – or altogether missing – over the long and lonely years.
So many obstacles, which seemed so undefeatable… All of them were worth it to get to this very point.
This is truly the best decision I've ever made.
"Are you happy, Izaya?" he asks with a warm white smile, combing my hair away from my eyes before brushing his thumb over my cheek.
Just the way he looks at me, so sincerely, is breathtaking in its own way. It's a trademark, reserved for me and me alone. Something you may see, but only I may own.
I feel myself sinking into the touch; nodding a gentle yes. Every time he touches me, I feel sparks. As warm as ever, now able to be enjoyed as a most valuable quality of this man, as opposed to a cure.
All along, maybe I was simply in need of some assurance – a promise that I wasn't making an irreversible mistake.
Looking back, it was never his heat, was it? It was Shizuo. It was everything he is. Everything I never knew I needed. Everything I plan to never let go.
It doesn't get much better than this.