When he rounded the corner, he saw Izaya about half a block away from him on an empty street and his instinctual reflexes kicked in. He ripped a mailbox up from where it was bolted to the street and hurled it in Izaya's direction.

"IIIIIIIIIZZAAAAAAAAAAAAA—" But Shizuo stopped short in surprise. Instead of jump out of the way, like that flea normally did when Shizuo sought to cause him harm, the mailbox actually hit him, and it hit him full force, knocking him away from the lamp post he had been leaning against and sending his body rolling across the sidewalk, where it eventually settled partway in the gutter.

Shizuo stood there at the end of the block for a moment, waiting for Izaya to hop up, grinning, and aim his knife at him-his typical response in these situations-but the moment seemed to stretch into several... and Izaya didn't move. His body remained limp and still, halfway hanging off the sidewalk in an uncomfortable looking position.

To be honest, Shizuo's first reaction was suspicion. Izaya… had to be faking, right? He was just waiting there for Shizuo to approach, so that he could jump up at the last minute and cut him. That had to be it. In all the years Shizuo had been hurling various items at Izaya, very few had hit him and even fewer had actually caused Izaya any real damage. Shizuo wasn't used to this at all, to this strange... warped sense of victory and... guilt.

He waited a moment more. Izaya would give up this charade at any moment. Shizuo didn't consider himself brilliant, by any definition, but he wasn't a complete idiot. He wasn't going to fall for something this stupid, Izaya had to realize that.

Still, Izaya wasn't moving. From where he was standing, Shizuo couldn't even tell if the dark lump of Izaya on the ground was breathing.

Tentatively, ready to jump away should Izaya show any signs of trickery, Shizuo took a few steps closer to the fallen form. Once he was only a few feet away, he managed to notice that Izaya's chest was rising and falling shallowly. The sight of it made him freeze, anticipating further movement... but seeing none. He kept several feet of distance between himself and Izaya and began to circle his body, walking out onto the empty night time street. The upper third of Izaya's body was sprawled over the edge of the sidewalk and his head was resting uncomfortably near a balled up and dingy scrap of newspaper and a discarded cigarette butt.

For some reason, it was a second more before Shizuo noticed the blood spilling over Izaya's forehead and eyes from an open wound near his temple that was being partially obscured by the blood-wet hair sticking to it.

His heart fluttered at that. He could only remember two other times that he'd actually made Izaya bleed. Or at least only two other times that he'd seen it. Neither time had there been this much blood.

But that could be a trick too, couldn't it? It wasn't impossible for Izaya to have created a fake wound, with fake blood, just to trick Shizuo. It just had to be an elaborate prank. Izaya had let himself get hit, and had somehow doused himself in fake blood while he was flying through the air. After that, all he had to do was lie there until Shizuo fell for it and came close to him. Then Shizuo would be in striking distance and Izaya could lash out at him, before hopping away, laughing maniacally. That HAD to be the plan. Why else would Izaya still be lying there? Shizuo had never managed to hurt Izaya before and he couldn't imagine why he would have been able to now.

He circled the body once more, watching Izaya closely, but the man didn't so much as twitch. One arm was lying palm up in the street, the other was at a strange angle above his head. His legs were definitely limp on the sidewalk, not poised and ready to propel him to his feet.

It was on the second circle that he noticed it, the street light glancing sharply off the exposed metal: Izaya's flickblade. When Izaya was hit, it must have knocked the thing out of his pocket or his sleeve, wherever it was he kept the thing hidden on him. The blade, which Shizuo keenly recognized, was lying about four feet away from Izaya's nearest hand, useless to him.

Of course, that could be part of the trick, too. Izaya might have flung the blade away from himself to make Shizuo think he was unarmed, while he secretly had another knife on his person. Shizuo wouldn't put it past him to devise a plan that elaborate. When Shizuo next passed the blade, he stooped over to pick it up and slip it into his pocket, keeping his eyes on Izaya, who had yet to move.

At least five minutes had passed. Surely, Izaya would have grown sick of this game by now. He must have known it wasn't going to work. His chest was moving ever so slightly (was his breathing even shallower than before? Shizuo couldn't be sure), but other than that it seemed that he was out cold.

Shizuo was starting to feel that maybe Izaya really was injured... but he wasn't ready to buy into the idea wholeheartedly yet. He was going to do everything he could think of to prevent himself from believing that he'd really knocked Izaya unconscious.

Frowning to himself, he moved to the end of the street and with a bit of effort, tugged a street sign out of the ground, breaking off the chunks of concrete from the end and carrying it back towards his fallen foe. Remaining a safe distance away, he used the end of the post to lightly prod Izaya's side. He didn't like the idea of injuring Izaya further if he really was hurt, so he only did it firmly enough to hopefully provoke some movement, though he got no response. He tried prodding him a few more times with still no reaction.

Then, he drew the sign up over his head, poised to strike... then swung the sign down in one quick motion aimed directly for Izaya's face; he stopped suddenly, the metal street sign hovering barely an inch above Izaya's head.

The man's body hadn't even twitched. He'd made no move to dodge the blow.

Shizuo frowned harder and took the sign back to the end of the street. He shoved it back into the ground crookedly, before approaching Izaya again.

Izaya looked irritatingly pathetic lying there, his jaw slack and lips parted slightly. He looked... victimized and for some reason it affected Shizuo in the same way seeing a small, injured animal did. Though he hadn't done it since he was a child, there had been times where the sight of a lonely kitten, or an injured bird had moved him to pick the thing up and spend hours trying to find it a home, or find a vet that would take it. He hated violence, especially when it pointless and was against something that couldn't even defend itself.

Unconscious, bleeding liberally, the upper half of his face colored crimson... Shizuo hated Izaya and he claimed to want him dead... but he wasn't cowardly enough to injure someone who was down, and he wasn't coldhearted enough to leave the man lying there to bleed to death in a gutter like some useless piece of trash, or to leave him there for some crook to pick over. Izaya was an asshole, but to leave him here for the vultures would make Shizuo just as bad.

Shizuo was already pissed at himself for what he was about to do and he muttered a curse under his breath. He circled Izaya's body once more and approached him, closer than before and looking him over a bit longer.

"If you aren't unconscious, I really will kill you," he announced gruffly. There was still no reaction on Izaya's part, though Shizuo hadn't expected one at that point. Regardless, he was no longer liable if Izaya really was faking and Shizuo got the sudden urge to strangle him when he popped to life.

Izaya didn't pop to life though, not as Shizuo knelt next to him, not as he tentatively moved his arms underneath the younger man, and not as he stood up straight, carrying Izaya in his arms. He had been half-tempted to heft him over one shoulder (Shizuo wasn't able to leave Izaya there, but he didn't really have anything against carrying him with the same dignity he would award a sack of potatoes), but he realized that would put the wound on Izaya's head lower than his heart, which meant more bleeding, and if he was going to carry the man into the emergency room, the last thing he needed was to deliver a dead body to them.

It was like carrying a rag doll. A warm, fleshy, heavy rag doll, but a rag doll none the less. Izaya was completely limp in his arms and for the first few steps, his head lolled around weakly before Shizuo realized he could lean it forward against his chest to keep it still. It got blood on his vest and he cursed again. As much as he wanted to force Izaya to pay for the dry cleaning... Shizuo had been the one to throw the mailbox. Unless he wanted to get really technical and lay the blame back on Izaya for being aggravating enough to make Shizuo want to throw things at him, which Shizuo felt was a bit twisted in terms of logic, he had caused his own mess here.

Raira General was nearly twelve blocks away and Shizuo carried Izaya the entire distance, trying to stick to alleys and side streets to avoid detection. Next to Izaya being DOA at the hospital, the second to last thing Shizuo needed was someone spotting him in the middle of this skewed act of kindness. The idea of explaining himself to a bemused Tom or a perplexed Simon was nearly as irritating as the task itself.

Finally, he got to the hospital, and luckily someone was coming out right as he approached the door. They held it open for him, and when he entered, all heads in the emergency roomed turned to him. Awkwardly, he approached the desk, and after giving the nurse Izaya's name and answering a few questions about Izaya's injury, they wheeled out a stretcher and told Shizuo to put Izaya on it. Once he had, no further attention was paid to him, so he left, feeling as though the whole event had been... almost disappointingly anticlimactic.

He forgot about the flickblade until he returned home that night and he pulled it from his pants pocket to set it on his dresser; he didn't see Izaya again until three days later.

He was on his way to meet up with Tom for some job he had and as he was approaching the end of the block, Izaya appeared suddenly in front of him from around the corner. Unable to help the gut reaction at the sight of the man, Shizuo had reached halfway to the nearest heavy object when Izaya turned to face him, his lips adopting the least menacing grin that Shizuo could ever remember seeing on his face; Shizuo couldn't help but freeze. The wound he'd left was mostly covered by hair, but Shizuo could see the black crisscross of stitches starting at his temple. He wondered just how many Izaya had needed.

The younger man approached him, still wearing that creepily nonthreatening smile, and called him softly by that irksome nickname, "Shizu-chan~"

Shizuo was too surprised to be angry. Seeing the injury he'd caused Izaya had destroyed his urge to attack him, and the pleasant smile on his lips seemed so innocent and foreign that Shizuo didn't know what to make of it. He wanted to pretend to himself that somehow, Izaya had learned how to fake innocence, even though Shizuo knew that if innocence could be faked, Izaya would have learned how to do it a long time ago.

Izaya stopped in front of where Shizuo had frozen on the sidewalk, just a foot or so away, and told him, "Eleven."

"What?" Shizuo asked, unsure what Izaya meant.

"Eleven stitches," he said, as if he'd looked into Shizuo's mind and read the question written there, though it was more likely that he'd just seen where Shizuo's eyes were focused. He was still smiling and really, it was almost… sweet looking, though Shizuo felt a bit disturbed that he could actually use such a word to describe Izaya Orihara. His eyes didn't even have that familiar, icy glint that they normally had. It was actually quite unnerving.

Shizuo's reaction (or perhaps it was better described as a lack of a reaction) did bring a semi-familiar look back to Izaya's face: amusement. He seemed absolutely tickled that he had somehow rendered Shizuo quite speechless. Since Shizuo wasn't going to speak, Izaya explained, "A nurse told me a tall blond guy who wore sunglasses and smelled like cigarettes dropped me off and then mysteriously vanished."

At that, Shizuo finally tensed, sensing something familiar was about to happen. Here it came. Izaya had heard that Shizuo had brought him in and if he didn't remember that Shizuo had been the one to assault him, hearing that Shizuo had brought him to the hospital had surely allowed him to connect the dots. Izaya knew Shizuo had attacked him and now he would try to blackmail him into paying the hospital bill, or doing something else humiliating to make up for what he'd done. Shizuo was sure that Izaya was going to make him regret his good deed and for a split second, Shizuo seriously wished he had just left Izaya on the street.

Instead, Izaya just dropped his voice and said sincerely, "Thank you."

Shizuo was so shocked at the genuine… gratitude in Izaya's voice that he actually couldn't breathe for a moment, and he was sure that this was still part of some ploy. After inhaling deeply, he asked, "For what?"

Still smiling at him, Izaya moved into him and leaned up, pushing himself to his tiptoes so that he could get close enough. His lips hovered near Shizuo's ear as he whispered, "For not leaving me to die."

Shizuo shivered at the feeling of the warm breath against his ear and told himself it had nothing to do with the words themselves, and had even less to do with this being Izaya.

As Izaya pulled away, he hesitated briefly and… his lips pressed softly against Shizuo's cheek.

The blonde's eyes opened wide and if he had been stunned before, the gentle kiss had knocked him into a stupor.

Izaya pulled back, moving back into Shizuo's field of vision. He was grinning from ear to ear now, the smile growing a bit closer to the mischievous one he normally wore. He must have been quite amused by the look on Shizuo's face, but he continued speaking as if he hadn't done anything out of the ordinary. "Do you have my knife? It wasn't in my stuff at the hospital."

Shizuo nodded numbly. It was all he could do, considering.

"I'll stop over later to pick it up," Izaya said casually. He seemed to realize that Shizuo was too confounded to protest and before Shizuo could find his voice, Izaya told him goodbye with a grin and walked past him, leaving Shizuo more or less shell shocked; that kiss had been one hell of a bomb. His mind felt completely shattered and though it felt like his thoughts should be racing, it was more like everything had just ground to a halt.

In fact, Shizuo remained quite out of it until he got a sudden call from Tom, wondering where the hell he was. Finally pulled from his bewildered state, he hurried off to assist his employer, hoping to keep himself sufficiently distracted (and unable to think about what had just happened) the rest of the day.