A Different Day

"Shizu-chan, did you know that we only dream of faces we've seen before?" Izaya smiled, chopsticks in hand as he gazed across the table at the blonde over the rim of his bowl, "So you're always dreaming about people you know or have seen on the streets, even if you don't remember them."

Shizuo wondered if maybe that little tidbit of trivia was supposed to interest him as he shoveled his own meal into his mouth, grunting in disinterest and hoping that the flea took it however he pleased. If the informant really thought that dreams were interesting to him, well, he could just continue thinking that.

"But you know, Shizu-chan doesn't really know that many people," Izaya didn't drop his gaze, didn't even falter as Shizuo paused to glare at him, all too aware that with every second of his time that the louse wasted, he was coming closer and closer to the end of his lunch break, "and when he gets mad—which is most of the time—he becomes single-minded and can't concentrate on anything but the source of his anger."

Slamming his bowl down on the table and ignoring the way the other weary patrons flinched, he growled, "Just what the Hell are you getting at?"

And Izaya grinned sweetly, like his eyes weren't just dancing with that tiny mischievous flame that always seemed to ignite Shizuo's most intense rage, and drew out in a voice that could induce cavities,

"Well, you must not have that many faces stored in your memory, so it's possible that, at least once, you've dreamed about me."

The statement caught him off guard. Izaya's tone sounded genuine. While that small change in the flea's behavior was still taking him some time to get used to, he found that he didn't mind it in the least.

He preferred Izaya when he was being honest, actually; when he wasn't playing games.

"I wonder if it was a wet dream."

And then, the serenity of the moment was shattered.

"Okay, I'm leaving," He spat, throwing down his chopsticks and rising from his seat. Izaya giggled in his girlish way, pulling out his wallet and skipping toward the front to pay before Shizuo could even stop him.

It had been like that for the last few weeks. Izaya would somehow appear right as his break began and offer to treat him to lunch. He would refuse, reach for the nearest lamp post or street sign or anything he could find and… he would discover that he couldn't bring himself to be angry.

Sure, there were days when the louse would come into Ikebukuro just looking for a fight and he would happily oblige, venting all of his rage and frustration as he chased the little annoyance through the busy city streets, but those days were becoming so few and far between that he wondered if sometime soon, it would be possible to actually find a working vending machine somewhere within in the district.

They always visited rather humble eateries, as Shizuo was unfamiliar with the more fancy restaurants, and while Izaya ate like a bird, he seemed to find some type of pleasure in his company and would always be back the next day with the very same offer.

"By the way," Izaya added as they prepared to go their separate ways—Shizuo back to the coffee shop where Tom was chatting up a cute waitress and Izaya to presumably wreak havoc on the somehow still unsuspecting citizens of Tokyo, "Fumihiko-san agreed to partner with the Yakuza. They're throwing a bit of a celebration at his Sake Bar tonight and he specifically mentioned that it would be a shame if my 'blonde-headed bartender friend' didn't show up."

Shizuo realized that he'd almost forgotten all about Fumihiko-san and the partnership with the Yakuza. If and when he ever did find himself thinking of the older businessman, it was usually only with a chuckle at the memory of how he'd artfully and very professionally wiped that stupid smirk right off of Izaya's face.

"So that means you're never going to get to mess with him, doesn't it?"

Izaya scowled at that, rubbing his hands together in the chill of the early February air. Although it was gradually becoming more commonplace for the two of them to be seen together, pedestrians still went out of their way to avoid the duo, just in case.

"If he ends up betraying them somehow, Shiki-san has promised me the first shot at him," and with that, the flea's deep frown warped into an even more terrifying childish grin, before he stood on the tips of his toes to pat Shizuo on the head and all but pranced away, "I'll see you later, Shizu-chaaaaan!"

Shizuo chuckled softly even as the urge to kill rose with the flea's voice and shoved his hands in his pockets, contemplating Izaya's invitation as he made his way toward the coffee shop where Tom was undoubtedly waiting for him in minor disappointment.

"You have a date?" Tom asked suspiciously as Shizuo felt himself blush.

Was it really that hard to believe?

Fiddling with his half-empty pack of cigarettes, he muttered, "Well, yeah. You just got that girl's number. Why is it so weird for me to have a date?"

Tom gave him a look as if to say 'chill out', lighting his own cigarette as the two ventured toward the nearest client's apartment.

"I'm not the one who is always saying things like, 'No girls like me' or, 'Every girl is afraid of me', now am I?" he asked, tone only slightly accusing, but mostly amused, "So excuse me if I'm a little surprised by this new development. I mean, my little Shizuo is growing up! Next thing I know, you'll be getting married and having kids—"

"Don't get ahead of yourself, it's just a date."

Heat burned his ears as the older man laughed, wondering if it was inappropriate to tell Tom that his date wasn't exactly a girl.

His boss seemed to somehow sense his discomfort and hurriedly changed the subject.

"So what's going on with you and Orihara-kun?" He spoke quickly, seeming to almost kick himself at his chosen topic, "If you guys keep going out to lunch like that, people are going to start thinking that you actually get along."

Shizuo's following laugh was less than reassuring.

They were silent for a moment as Tom checked the address on his phone, just recently deciding to switch from papers to digital per a fellow bill collector's suggestion.

"You know," he added after a minute or two, "if you guys do end up being friends, you could always offer him a bodyguard job. I'll need someone to save my ass if you and Vorona ever decide to call in sick on the same day."

Shizuo smiled at that, shaking his head as Tom chuckled and reassured him that, no, he and Izaya definitely were not friends.

He didn't say, however, that with their little scene on the rooftop New Year's Day, he wasn't really sure what they were.

"Maybe what you're looking for is right under your nose."

He sighed, rubbing his temples. He hadn't really been sure what the louse had meant by that at first, and he was only becoming more confused as time went on.

"So do you need to get off work early—you know, to get yourself fixed up, buy her some flowers—the usual?" Tom's smile was serious, but that didn't stop the flush from settling even deeper on his cheeks.

…And he realized, just a little too late, that the goddamn flea hadn't told him what time he needed to be ready.

Tom ended up sending him home an hour and a half earlier than usual, and while he'd been thankful for the extra time off, he was sure that any business conducted by the Yakuza, be it shady or not, wasn't going to take place until the sun went down.

His door creaked miserably as he swung it closed behind him, mindful of sneaky informants as he made sure to lock it.

He dropped his meager mail on the kitchen table, ignoring those few bills in favor of making his way to the bathroom for a much-needed shower. He felt absolutely filthy after throwing around so much scum all day long.

Leaving the bathroom door ajar, he stripped, turning the water on high and stepping beneath the jet.

The heat felt good on his tired muscles, and he let his mind wander to the seemingly distant memories of the past New Year's—waking up next to Izaya, traveling the city with him, seeing that human side of him that he'd previously thought didn't exist.

He found that it was becoming harder and harder to stay angry at the informant, that as the days passed and the flea seemed to be revealing his better qualities more willingly, he wasn't quite as eager to hate him.

It was confusing, to say the least. He and Izaya had been at each other's throats since their first year of high school. Mending their relationship couldn't possibly be as simple as seeing the other man in the midst of the worst hangover of his life, but...

It was starting to seem like that was all it took.

A week or so prior, the louse had tipped their waitress double, for no reason other than that she'd been nice. He'd said something about how unkind humans were only humans who were never rewarded for their good deeds, but even with all the psychobabble that he'd used to cover up his embarrassment, Shizuo had still found himself smiling.

Three days ago, Izaya had told a joke that had actually made him laugh. It was something about his secretary's bad attitude and how he'd taken to simply pretending to drink his tea, since he was sure she was slipping him tiny servings of antifreeze, and when Shizuo had asked him why he didn't just stop asking her to make it for him, he'd replied, "Because she hates doing it."

And the statement had been so outrageous and so like him that Shizuo had found himself laughing—not loud, not until he cried or couldn't breathe—but his laughter had caused the most charming of smiles to momentarily grace the information broker's features, and he'd wondered just how many other people had witnessed that beautiful smile and lived to tell of it.

It was such a gorgeous look, he mused. It figured that the flea would purposefully hide it from the world.

It was also very quickly becoming alarming just how willingly he thought of Izaya in that way. He would find himself contemplating the color of the flea's eyes, or the way that he didn't smell bad at all, just different, just expensive and foreign and Shizuo had never really known how to react to him… but he would be thinking about Izaya in all of those different ways, the ways that one thought of someone they were attracted to, and over time, the thoughts began to disturb him less and less, until he barely cringed when he woke up from yet another dirty dream of the flea (because, as humiliating as it was, Izaya had been right when he assumed that he dreamed of him, but he didn't realize just how much).

Massaging a palm-full of shampoo into his hair, he wondered if Izaya was going to dress up. He wondered if the louse would make some lame joke about being "the man" in the relationship, since he was picking him up and all, but brushed the thought aside.

Izaya was oddly vague about what he wanted out of their little "arrangement", and even more so about what he wanted from Shizuo himself.

Sometimes, he would swear that Izaya was just messing with him, just trying to win his trust so he could destroy him like every other human, but then he would catch the informant staring, as if he were trying to calculate something, to memorize something, as if he were looking at some type of priceless gem or famous painting.

And unless there was a Monet hanging behind Shizuo's head in every restaurant they visited, he assumed that the look was directed at him.

Rinsing the last of the shampoo out of his hair, he turned off the water and stepped out onto the cold tile floor, grabbing a towel from the rack and drying himself.

He breathed deeply, nerves tingling through his veins as he wrapped the towel around his waist and made his way to the bedroom.

He wondered if maybe he should wear something dressy, but with one look in his closet, he realized that over the years, he'd gotten rid of everything but a few nightshirts and his numerous bartender uniforms.

Maybe a shopping day was in order, if only so he would have something nice next time the flea wanted to bring him out.

'Next time—'

"Oh Shizu-chan, don't tell me the only thing you have in your wardrobe are those atrocious uniforms?"

Shizuo had never really been the skittish type, but hearing Izaya's voice when he was absolutely positive that he'd locked his front door nearly made him jump out of his skin.

Instead, he whirled around, towel falling to the floor with a wet slap in his haste.

"Oh, Shizu-chan, what a wonderful view—"

"What the Hell are you doing in here?" He bellowed, fists shaking in rage as he glowered down at the louse, who rested rather comfortably against the headboard of his bed, wrapped up in his blanket as if he'd been there a thousand times before.

He laughed lightly, making a face that Shizuo assumed was supposed to be cute before answering, in the sweetest of voices, "Well, I came to pick you up, of course. I've been waiting for a few hours and you don't even have anything good to eat around here—just milk and stale bread."

The blonde sputtered nonsensically, not sure how to feel about the fact that the louse had seriously been in his house long enough to look through his things.

"How the Hell did even get in here?"

Izaya shrugged as if Shizuo had simply asked him about the weather, stretching as he rose from the bed and padded toward the closet.

"Come on now, Shizu-chan, do you really think that some petty deadbolt could keep me at bay?"

The obvious answer was no, but he didn't want to give the flea the satisfaction as the shorter man thumbed through the identical shirts that swayed innocently in his grasp.

Izaya smelled nice. Since when did Izaya smell nice?

Shizuo let himself get lost in the citrusy scent of the louse's hair as it tickled at his chin when Izaya squeezed by him for better access to the back of his wardrobe.

What kind of shampoo did he prefer? Did he use body wash? Did he spritz on a little cologne?

"Shizu-chan, it's very hard to convince myself that you're not a beast when you keep sniffing me like that."

He wasn't sure he'd ever moved so quickly in his life as he jerked away, taking a few fast steps backward to avoid the flea's knowing grin. He swallowed the urge to knock the louse's teeth out.

"You really don't have anything aside from bartender's uniforms," he clicked his tongue at the realization, as if offended by Shizuo's taste in clothing, and turned to face him, suddenly as serious as the blonde had ever seen him (which honestly wasn't all that much).

"I have a few shirts that I sleep in," Shizuo countered, suddenly feeling quite offended and self-conscious, "and some boxers..."

Izaya stared at him for a moment, face placid as the seconds ticked by.

"While I would definitely enjoy seeing you parade around in your underwear, Shizu-chan," he drew out, voice low and laced with laughter, "I'm not sure the Yakuza would really appreciate it. They are quite formal, you know."

Shizuo instantly felt his face heat up, rage bubbling in the pit of his stomach as shame burned at his ears. Just as he was about to throw a fit, however, Izaya spoke again,

"I thought something like this might happen, so I took the liberty of buying you something nice," the flea looked so distracted then, like his mind was racing a thousand miles a minute while his mouth spoke sure and slow. Shizuo wondered when he'd started noticing all of the little emotions that the informant couldn't keep from slipping through his ironclad façade, "If it really bothers you so much that I picked them out, you could always just pretend that they're a gift from your brother."

A gust of air blew past Shizuo as the flea rushed toward the bed. That heavenly citrus scent filled his senses as the informant pulled two long, plastic bags from where they hung on metal hangers from his window frame.

"One outfit for me," he giggled, setting one on the bed as he stepped just a little closer to Shizuo, "and one for Shizu-chan. Now go change before we're late. Unless you'd like to stay in here and watch me strip—"

The door slammed behind him before the louse could even finish his sentence.

His mom had once told him that it was very important to appreciate even the worst gift you were given because someone took the time to think of you, and might have thought that you would like it. He wondered if Izaya deserved a 'thank you', but shook his head, pulling the clothing from its protective covering to distract himself.

It wasn't anything too flamboyant, he realized with a sigh of relief, but it was obviously expensive. Something about the way it nearly felt like silk against his fingers made him think that maybe it cost more than even his prized uniforms—or anything else that he owned, for that matter.

The vest was a familiar asset, and he wondered if the flea had taken into consideration that he'd feel more comfortable if the outfit incorporated his usual style. It was black: like coal, like oil. The pants were just the right length, the waist as fitting and comfortable as anything he'd ever worn as he stepped into the legs of his new trousers (realizing just a little too late—and in utter horror—that he'd neglected to snatch his towel from the floor where he'd dropped it in his shock). The dress shirt was a crisp white, clean and perfectly proportioned, hugging to his figure as he finished doing the last button. He'd never had much experience with wearing ties, but his knowledge was extensive enough that he had no problem putting it on, wondering if the louse had even taken the time to select the perfect shade of blue. The vest fit just as well as everything else and by the time he'd shrugged on the thick but also fitting jacket, he wondered how the Hell Izaya knew his measurements. He didn't even know his measurements.

He grumbled as he buckled his belt, suddenly feeling overly exposed as he heard the little louse humming out of tune from the other room.

"I thought you could wear your own shoes," Izaya called, apparently on the move as his voice became further and further away. It sounded like he was in the kitchen when he added, "Shizu-chan, hurry up! I'm sure your makeup looks fine!"

He wondered if it was too late to just call the whole thing off.

"I'm coming, just shut the Hell up!"

And the flea was indeed in the kitchen when he stepped out into the hall. He hadn't really given himself the chance to think about what Izaya had picked out for himself, as he was too distracted by the gentle caress of his own clothing against his skin and the way it felt like he was wearing smoke, but with one look at the informant, he wasn't thinking of anything but him.

Izaya cleaned up nice, even he could admit, although that was definitely one Hell of an understatement.

The louse was surprisingly trendy (for the first time in his life, Shizuo mused) in a dark gray suit—pinstripes, deep violet-red tie, and a pair of glossy, black dress shoes. He'd done something with his hair—pushed it further to the side so that it didn't hang in his eyes, and something about all that newly exposed skin made a slow tingling sweep through his veins.

"Are you ready?" he asked, sultry even without intending to be, and Shizuo shook himself out of his thoughts, and nodded quickly as the flea laughed.

Shizuo ran a hand through his hair, breath hanging in the air in front of him as Izaya chatted up the doorman. He huffed impatiently, wondering why the louse was so set on making connections with every human being in existence, before the flea turned to smile childishly in his direction and the doorman ushered them in.

The warmth of the bar was a relief after the late winter chill outside. The lights were dim, smoke clouding the room as numerous bodies moved passed each other and occupied the many couches and chairs that now replaced the tables he'd seen during his last visit.

Moody discomfort seemed to emanate from Izaya's very being as he glanced around at the many scarred and scary faces that Shizuo had admittedly never seen, but also knew that he didn't want to. He was sure he should have been more intimidated to spend an evening with Tokyo's most terrifying criminals, but as it was, they seemed more leery of him.

Izaya, however, seemed oblivious to the tension around them, completely distracted as if trying to avoid someone.

"You're going to have to face Fumihiko-san eventually," He chuckled, biting back the urge to pat the other man on the shoulder, "it's not like it's going to kill you to talk to him."

Sniffing indignantly and glaring from under thick lashes, Izaya drew out, voice soft but not without a distinct bite, "I know that, but Fumihiko-san has some… misconceptions about our relationship."

'Relationship?' he wanted to ask, but just as he opened his mouth to speak, a familiar voice rang out, "Orihara-san, Heiwajima-san, what a pleasure it is to see both of you again!"

'Speak of the Devil' came to mind as Fumihiko-san clapped a grumpy Izaya on the back, grinning widely as if he had no idea how much the flea wanted to destroy everything he loved.

"You wouldn't mind if I stole Orihara-san away for a moment, would you?" he asked, voice light as he smiled up at Shizuo, "I'll have him right back to you, but we just need to speak about some business."

Shizuo waved a hand to excuse the two of them, trying to look friendly and smile as Fumihiko thanked him and pulled a fussy Izaya away. He wasn't really sure what to do with himself after that, however, as many eyes settled on him and he realized that Izaya was his only connection amongst a roomful of mobsters.

He felt he should have been a little concerned.

Instead, he made his way toward the bar, hoping to chat up the bartender and avoid any unwanted conflict until Izaya came back.

"Could I just get some grape juice—no alcohol?" He asked as the man glanced at him from across the glossy counter and nodded at his request. He hadn't so much as touched anything alcoholic since New Year's. He'd definitely learned his lesson.

If Izaya thought that he couldn't be any more uncomfortable than he was when he'd walked in with none other than the famed and feared Heiwajima Shizuo—who, as far as the Yakuza knew, he still hated more than anything else—he was terribly, terribly mistaken.

"Come on, Orihara-san, you have to admit, it is a little funny," Shiki chuckled as he sipped his sake, "Who would have thought you were harboring such affection for someone like Heiwajima Shizuo."

Izaya honestly didn't think it was humorous in the least.

He sneered, sending Fumihiko-san a fiery glare as he swigged his own sake, nearly gagging as it stung his throat.

Damn Fumihiko. Damn him to the deepest pits of Hell.

He was not allowed to use the "drink with me or I'll do my business elsewhere" argument twice in a row—and definitely not anywhere near the so terribly impressionable Shiki-san!

"How much did you say he drank?" the Yakuza boss asked, smiling slyly as Izaya groaned and downed another shot. He was going to have to be good and buzzed to make it through the night without bludgeoning himself with the heaviest object he could find—which at that very moment, was the sizable sake bottle that sat between them on the table.

"Well," Fumihiko drew out, amused, "about three glasses more than he's had so far tonight."

Izaya had the distinct feeling that he was part of a joke that he wasn't entirely aware of. Shrugging it off, he gulped another glass, lightheaded as his two clients shared a laugh.

Conversation proved to be far more difficult than he'd expected, what with him being quiet and the bartender being so weary of him. He slumped against the counter after some time had passed. Just how long was Fumihiko planning to keep Izaya?

With a glance at the clock that hung just above the bar, he realized that it had already been half an hour.

Turning, he was relieved to finally catch a glimpse of Izaya—ignoring the way he swayed as if he would topple over as he staggered toward him.

"S-Shizu-chaaaaan, I've been looking f-for you," the flea purred as he came close enough to fall limply in his arms. Shizuo almost didn't catch him, almost just let him fall to the floor—it was what he deserved anyway, "I think I d-drank a little too much again, Shizu-chaaaaan!"

He sighed heavily, sending Fumihiko a stern look as the older man waved apologetically from across the bar.

"S-so I was thinking about earlier, Shizu-chaaaan," the informant sang and Shizuo really wished he'd stop saying that already God-awful nickname like that, "and I decided that you d-definitely have wet dreams about m-me."

He hiccupped, and it was so adorable that Shizuo almost forgot to be mortified.

"Okay," he barked, hauling Izaya up by his armpits as the louse chattered and giggled like a little girl, "you've talked to your boss, you've had your fun. I think it's time to go home."

The flea allowed himself to be carried toward the door without protest, but not before laughing like a madman and bellowing, just loud enough for the entire goddamn block to hear, "Aw, Shizu-chan wants to take me home—"

And promptly earned himself a smack to the back of the head.

The walk home had been surprisingly uneventful—Izaya still pouting about the bruise that was surely forming on the back of his skull and Shizuo rolling his eyes at the appropriate intervals.

He didn't really feel like walking all the way back to Izaya's apartment, and while a good night's sleep sounded absolutely heavenly, he also understood that the louse couldn't be left alone while so intoxicated.

…What if he woke up in some other guy's bed?

'He would deserve it,' he reasoned mentally, reassuring himself that he was only concerned because it would somehow come back to haunt him if something happened to the flea while he was his responsibility, 'It's not like I care if the stupid louse gets himself into another mess like that.'

It wasn't until he'd successfully lugged the dead weight of the other man through the threshold of his apartment, somehow managed to venture through the darkened rooms without knocking his legs on any furniture, and laid the flea on his bed that he really started to regret his sudden burst of kindness.

He didn't think anything of it at first when he attempted to rise and the other man clung to him. He thought that maybe he was thirsty, needed to throw up—anything, but when those cold hands started wandering over his clothed skin like he'd memorized the expanse of it months ago, he became a little concerned.

"Izaya," he breathed, wincing as the flea nudged open a button and began tracing his flesh, "what the Hell are you doing?"

It took everything he had not to bolt, but he told himself that this was Izaya he was dealing with—albeit an intoxicated and extremely handsy Izaya—and with the louse, it was always some kind of game.

He would not give him the satisfaction of winning.

"I'm touching you," the flea nearly groaned, breath hot against his face as he slipped the suit jacket from his shoulders, nimbly working open the buttons of the vest, "and you're enjoying it."

At that, he tried to pull away once more, only to be halted as Izaya finally managed to rid him of his vest and grabbed him by his tie.

"B-but," he stumbled over his words, barely able to make out the outline of Izaya's face in the darkness as the flea began undoing his dress shirt, "y-you're drunk. Stop it."

The flea smirked at that, running his fingers over his newly-exposed chest as his eyelids drooped and he seemed to drift off for a moment.

Shizuo untangled them then, pulling his blankets over the louse and convincing himself that the suit was expensive and comfortable enough that he wouldn't need to change the louse into something more appropriate, before tiptoeing to the door and nearly jumping out of his skin when Izaya spoke again.

"Don't act like you don't want me, Shizu-chan."

He scoffed, yanking open the door before growling, "I don't."

Izaya giggled once more, wiggling about under the blankets and extending his hands into the air. His eyes twinkled in the dull light that filtered through the window. He was silent for a millisecond, just letting his laughter hang there, before adding, quietly, "You sure seemed to want me when you thought I was a girl."

They simply sat there for a moment, staring at each other through the darkness as Shizuo tried to comprehend the words that he'd just heard.

The flea's eyes seemed to ignite into tiny embers the longer they stayed silent, lips parted in a way that Shizuo was desperately trying not to find familiar.

Dark hair, dark eyes alight in the night like the thousands of tiny, twinkling lanterns around them and the fireworks in the distance. Soft hands and the scarlet flutter of clothing as she knelt before him in the alley, mouth against skin as she devoured all of him—the temptress of his New Year's eve that had stolen his heart for the very first time, who he'd sworn he'd never search a crowd for again—

"Don't you understand, protozoan?" the louse drew out softly, sitting up shakily as Shizuo trembled and held the doorframe for support, "I'm that girl—the one you fell in love with New Year's Eve. I'm the one who pulled you away to that alleyway and sucked your—"

"Shut up!" He screeched, surprising even himself. He was shaking so badly that his knees knocked together in a noisy sort of drumming. He swallowed, the lump in his throat so thick that he could barely even breathe.

It made so much sense, but he… he couldn't believe it. It had to be some kind of trick.

Izaya had to be lying. He had to be fooling him somehow. Orihara Izaya did not get on his knees for the monster of Ikebukuro. They didn't get along like that. They weren't friends, they weren't lovers. They weren't anything.

Thoughts rushed through his head like tidal waves, crashing through his brain so loudly that he could barely hear Izaya's voice above the frenzy in his thoughts.

"Are you angry?" The louse asked gently, "Are you terribly disgusted?"

He felt so many things at that moment—betrayal that tasted bitter like sadness, rage laced with confusion—that it was hard to decipher just one, to pull one from the mass and identify it as a single thing when he wasn't feeling just one single thing.

Those fiery eyes were dimming as he bore no answer, and something about the flea's loss of energy only fueled those rampant emotions.

So, in the most difficult display of good will he'd ever forced himself through, he didn't scream, didn't yell, didn't rage—simply closed the door behind him, slowly dragging himself toward the couch for the night.

He hoped that maybe a little rest might erase the way that Izaya's answering laughter through the door sounded undeniably sad.

His body denied him the pleasure of slumber for a good portion of the night, but somehow, finally, he found himself drifting away dreamlessly, right around the time that the sun skimmed the horizon and his bedroom door teetered ajar.

It was well-passed noon when he finally stirred, with a headache so ruthless that he almost swore he'd drunk his weight in liquor the night before.

His neck throbbed from its awkward position on his couch, as every other muscle in his body, and for a moment, he just lay there, wondering if that was how Izaya had felt the morning after they'd spent that strange but beautiful night together.

'Izaya…' he thought almost regretfully, rising into a sitting position and assessing the severity of his bed head, 'Izaya, he… he seriously… he was the one who…'

The thought of the flea pleasuring him and asking nothing in return made him wince.

So that was it? He was just going to take the louse's word for it and move on? There was no chance that he was full of it and only making things up to freak him out?


There had been something about the way he'd confessed—something about the way he'd behaved all the way back in January when they'd travelled the city together that just made sense.

He'd always contemplated the strange way that the flea had kept quiet, the way he'd twitched at the mention of the girl—the way he was suddenly so touchy-feely at Shinra's apartment when he'd spoken of the girl's beauty.

Izaya had always chided him about his animalistic intuition—the way he could just feel him in the district, the way he could tell exactly what he was thinking at any given moment—and Shizuo took a sort of mixed pleasure in the fact that those very same instincts were telling him that the flea wasn't lying in the least.

"Hey, louse," he called, standing to face the door.

When no one answered, he sighed, pacing toward the room, and stepping inside, only to feel a hopeless kind mourning swell in his chest at the sight of an empty bed.

So the flea thought he could just drop a bomb like that and leave? He thought he wasn't involved? He thought he could just mess everything up and walk away?

"Dammit," he cursed, pulling on the previous night's dress shirt and not even stopping in the bathroom to look in the mirror before shoving his feet in his shoes and stomping out the door.

"Izaya, you look like garbage. Come eat sushi! Sushi help!"

The informant smiled sweetly up at his Russian acquaintance, ignoring the way that his eye still tingled every time he came near the older man.

"Nah, not today, Simon," he sighed with a flourish of his hand, "I had a rough night. I don't think I could stomach any sushi for a while."

Simon nodded as if understanding exactly what it was that Izaya meant—a trait that admittedly made his skin crawl—before answering in the most hushed of Russian,

"You're fighting with Shizuo again? Why can't you just admit that you're in love with him and be happy?"

He laughed bitterly at the comment, anger bubbling in the pit of his chest as his grin stayed intact.

"If only it were that easy, Simon," he hissed, mimicking the language and shoving his hands in his pockets, "He knows now anyway, I'm sure, and he's so mad that he's never going to forgive me."

Simon laughed at that, causing that small bubbling to turn into a full-on tsunami of annoyance, as his grin finally dropped and the foreigner waved his hands in front of him in defense.

"I'm sorry! It's just that you've surely done worse things to Shizuo than admitting that you're in love with him, and he's apparently forgiven you for those, so—"

A crashing somewhere in the distance cut him off, and just as he was about to continue, something large and rather dented soared through the air, landing mere centimeters from Izaya's feet.

Inspecting the object, the informant smirked tiredly, fingering the blade in his pocket as a familiar figure made its appearance through the crowd.

"A bumper, Shizu-chan, really? How tacky," his heart was thundering dangerously against his breastbone.

Shizuo looked a mess.

He was still wearing the clothes from the night before, his hair was standing in all different direction, and there were bags under his eyes so dark that Izaya could see them all the way from where he stood across the street.

"Shut up," the ex-bartender sneered, stalking forward and stopping within arm's reach of the other man, "you are not allowed to have the first word this time, louse!"

Izaya cackled at that, shrugging blithely.

"And what am I supposed to do about that now, Shizu-chan? Take it back?"

It was Shizuo's turn to cackle, and the sound made ice run through his veins. Simon tried to reason with him, with them, but Shizu-chan was so stupid and so blind.

Shizu-chan seriously hadn't figured it out. He'd searched all over Ikebukuro for some imaginary girl and had never stopped to think that maybe the man next to him was exactly who he'd been looking for.

He'd never even considered that Izaya might have been madly in love with him, and suddenly, the very thought of it pissed the informant off more than anything had in his entire life.

"No, you don't have to do anything," Shizuo snarled, pulling a yield sign from its place in the ground, ignoring the sound of groaning metal and the hushed whispers of pedestrians, "Just let me kill you."

And as if nothing had changed between them, as if Izaya hadn't confessed and Shizuo's mind wasn't reeling with so many feelings that he could barely even stand, they took off.

It was the most intense battle they'd been involved in since high school.

Shizuo found himself lost in the familiar feelings of running and fighting—of cat and mouse—as he chased Izaya through the busy city streets, through empty alleys and windy rooftops.

His skin was on fire as the flea jumped from the tops of parked cars, winking at him over his shoulder in a way that made his slowly-depleting rage return tenfold.

How dare the louse be so agile after being so drunk and helpless the night before. How dare he act like nothing had happened to change things! How dare he occupy his thoughts every goddamn second of every day and how dare he creep into his life and start changing things around until Shizuo wasn't even sure what to feel anymore!

He tore a trashcan from the sidewalk, thrusting it in the flea's direction and clipping him in the ankle. The other man fell gracefully, like some type of feline, twisting mid-air to land on his good leg as he glowered in Shizuo direction.

'Good,' the blonde thought, 'he'd better be pissed.'

However, when the flea giggled, like the deranged little schoolgirl he was, Shizuo felt all of his joy melt into rage.

"Who the Hell do you think you are?" He bellowed as the louse pulled himself to his feet shakily. He smothered the urge to help him up, despising himself all the more.

Izaya's giggling increased at that. He wiped the sweat from his forehead, prissy and conceited as always, and Shizuo wanted to slap him, to strangle the smugness right off of his face.

"I'm Orihara Izaya, Shizu-chan, you know that," his smile darkened then, into something sinister and cruel, as he added, lowly, "or have you confused me for someone else again?"

And that was it. Something inside of Shizuo snapped.

He hated him so much. He hated the way he smiled, the way he smelled. He hated his little jokes. He hated the way he walked, how passionate he was about work. He hated the way he never gave up, the way he could never stay out of Ikebukuro for long, how smart he was, how embarrassed he was to be truly happy.

He hated his warmth and the softness of his skin. He hated everything about him. He hated everything he touched, everything he thought, every breath he drew—in and out and in and out.

His hatred pounded in his bones, in his skull, against his ribs. His hatred festered in every pore of his being, spilled over in his chest, boiled in his guts.

'I hate you so much.'

His steps seemed to echo against the concrete as he neared the flea, throat stinging as he yearned to scream his hatred in the stupid bastard's face.

He pulled him forward by the front of his shirt, ignoring the way he winced.

'I hate you more than anything.'

The chill of Izaya's blade against his throat was nothing new. He knew the louse was too much of a coward to push down, to drag it across his skin.

'I hate you so much that I could die.'

"Shizu-chan, I—"


Time seemed to freeze as he stared down at the other man. In his haste, he'd spit in the louse's face, and it sparkled in the sun like a trophy as his heart beat erratically and for once, since they'd met all those years ago, Izaya looked truly shocked.

"You… what?" the louse asked in disbelief, color painting his cheeks as all noise around them was halted.

Somewhere to his left, he swore he heard a rather feminine squeal of, "See! I told you!" but ignored it. Was it really so hard to believe that he hated Orihara Izaya? He'd been saying it for years, maybe with not so much feeling, but it had always been there, a constant companion whether he liked it or not.

"I said that I—"



"I didn't mean that!" he nearly screamed, pushing the flea backwards as he backed away, "I meant to say that I hate you because I, I hate you so much! I hate y-you and I'm tired and it's all your fault, and, and, I..."

Whispering began to pick up around them. It was suddenly too hot. There were too many eyes on him. The air was too thick—he couldn't breathe! His heart was pounding so hard that he was sure it would tear out of his chest!

And Izaya was coming ever-closer, dark eyes glimmering with something predatory and mysterious as he grinned up at him.

"You meant it though, didn't you—that you love me?" Something about the way he asked and the way he so resembled the mysterious girl from New Year's eve kept Shizuo from pummeling his face in.

'He looks like her because he is her,' he reminded himself scathingly. Even though it made perfect sense, somehow it was so absolutely confusing. Even though it answered so many questions, it still raised even more.

Even though his mind screamed that he'd finally found the beautiful, fleeting love that he'd never been able to forget, somehow he still wanted more.

And so, he took it.

"Yes," he muttered, "I did."

He paused, searching the flea's eyes for some sort of acceptance, for some sort of indication that he wasn't just making a fool of himself.

"I've meant it since we stood on Shinra's balcony. I've meant it since we went out to eat. I, I—"

Izaya pulled him forward by the front of his shirt, standing on the tips of his toes as he crashed their lips together.

Shizuo wondered how many times he'd dreamed about that very moment since January—since he'd discovered that softer side of the informant that he couldn't seem to forget no matter how hard he'd tried.

He wondered if he could have ever imagined the warmth of that mouth, if any of his dreams had ever done the kiss justice, if maybe he'd done this one thousand times in his sleep, but those dreams could never live up to the moment he was currently in.

However, at the feeling of a tongue gliding across his lips, he tore himself away.

"Why the Hell do you always have to do that?" He hollered, pushing the louse away and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

Izaya blinked.

"Do what?" he asked incredulously, cocking his hip to the side and crossing his arms over his chest, "Kiss you? I've never kissed you before, Shizu-chan."

Shizuo scowled, scaring off a few onlookers as his face ignited for what felt like the billionth time in the last twenty-four hours.

"T-that!" he boomed, as if it answered everything, motioning helplessly into the air, "We'll be having a nice time and you have to go ruin everything by doing something perverted!"

With a raised brow, Izaya countered, "So you were having a good time just now?"

Breathing deeply, he resigned himself to his fate. Whether he liked it or not, he'd fallen for Orihara Izaya, and Orihara Izaya was an annoying little shit who was impossible to deal with on the very best days, who ruined every good moment and couldn't seem to keep his depraved comments to himself, but…

"I don't care that you lied to me," he drew out softly, eyes gentle as Izaya raised a brow, "I don't care that you kept everything a secret."

The flea stood wide-eyed, taken aback as the blonde drew closer once more, reaching out to smack the him gently on the side of the head.

"Ow, asshole! What the Hell?"

"You told me that maybe what I was looking for was right under my nose, didn't you?"

The flea nodded sulkily, rubbing his head.

"Well, I'm looking, and I think I found it."

Izaya laughed at that, "Of course you did, Shizu-chan, I already told you that I'm—"

Without letting the idiot finish, he pulled him into another kiss, eliciting gasps and gossip all around them, squeals from somewhere to his left, and he swore that somewhere in the distance, he could hear Simon saying that sushi cured nosiness.

Nothing else really mattered anyway, not when Izaya was so warm against him, not when the louse was quiet for even a moment and fitting so perfectly in his arms.

He wondered what he would tell Tom. He wondered how he would possibly explain everything to Shinra and Celty, how his brother would react when he heard the news.

But as Izaya ran his tongue along his lip once more, and begrudgingly, he let him in, somehow, those worries seemed so far away.

They were different adventures for different days, and Shizuo realized as the louse hummed against his mouth, that they had plenty of time.


There you have it! This was intended to be posted on Valentine's Day, but… I got a little too excited and Chappy-the-Bunny, who so kindly edited this for me, and I decided that there would be no shame in posting it early, so here we are!

As always, I'd like to thank Chappy-the-Bunny for pushing me to write and for taking the time out of her day to read and reread my stories to make sure that every detail is in order.

I'd also like to thank everyone who requested this sequel. Thank you for your support! This is officially my 99th story, and I'm very happy about that!

As always, thank you so much for reading and please feel free to leave a review and let me know what you thought!