"Oh... well, Mr. Orihara...? It seems you, uh, have a visitor..."

The nurse murmured from the doorway, dipping her head.

The respirator the ravenette was hooked up to heaved, the heart monitor ticked, but the patient did not respond.

She bit her bottom lip.

"Ahn... You can just head inside, I guess... His condition isn't all too hot, I'm afraid... he's had a real rough night..."

"Oh, okay. Thank you, miss."

"Yeah, just let me know when you're heading out, alright?"

"M'kay. Will do."

The nurse smiled briefly before walking back down the hallway, heels clicking on the tile.

The tall figure slipped quietly into the room and took a chair next to the patient's bed.

"Hey, flea."

After a few moments the bed-ridden slowly turned his head to the sound of the voice, staring out the corner of widened crimson eyes.

"Sh... Shizu-chan." No more than a whisper.

The blonde nodded, keeping eye contact with the information broker.

"So karma finally caught up to you... Sure came back to bite you in the ass, now didn't it, Izaya...?" He sneered. The ravenette swallowed rather harshly, wrinkling and twitching his nose because of the discomfort brought about by the nasal oxygen tube he'd been administered.

"Shizu-chan... W-Why... Why are you here...?" Izaya inquired, his voice weak and fragile.

"How many times were you shot, again?"

Izaya sucked in his bottom lip, looking away from the other and turning his (still wide-eyed) gaze hesitantly to the covers of his hospital bed, softly pulling at the fabric.

"... S-... Six times..."

Shizuo cocked an eyebrow.

"Six times? Wow... Pity it didn't kill you."

It was a truly awful thing for him to say, but underneath the venom of his words was a faint emotion that the ravenette could not quite identify.

"...Yeah. A real pity." Izaya retorted, not a single air of his usual sarcasm in his voice at all. Shizuo hesitated, a bit taken aback by that fact, and he stopped to rethink what he had planned to say next.

The information broker seemed distant, wounded and feeble; a side of him that the blonde former bartender had never come into contact with before.

It frightened him. He was wandering into unknown territories now; and seeing the ravenette at what very well might have been his rock bottom was bringing out an emotion inside that he had kept buried too-deeply within himself for years.

Izaya let his eyes fall closed for a long time, lashes fluttering slightly. The space between, vacant of voices, only intensified the ticks, beeps and heaves emitting from the various machines of the hospital room.

He let out a soft sigh, opening his eyes again and returning their gaze to the figure seated in the chair.

His glassy crimson eyes served as windows to all of the internal turmoil bottled up within himself; and looking into them only stained the blonde's heart with the same feelings.

"Shizuo... you know, you are the only person who even bothered to come and visit me, in all the time I've been locked up in this damn hospital..." The ravenette swallowed again, looking down to the bed sheets and his bandaged hands.

" And Shizuo, even if you only came to belittle and laugh at me, I... I'm still grateful to have your company..."

The power and intensity, the true meaning behind his words crashed down upon the blonde like an icy tidal wave that left every part of his being absolutely shaking. "Ah, Izaya-!" Shizuo blurted, but the expression on the information broker's face made the words catch in his throat. He hesitated, almost paralyzed.

"What, what about y-your friends, though?"

Izaya let out a harsh laugh in a tone that was insidiously cruel to himself.

"Izaya Orihara does not have 'friends', Shizu-chan."

The figure in the chair was completely dumbstruck.

"But, ah, your family?"

"Who, Mairu and Kururi? Pssh...! My sisters have told me straight to my face that they'd push me in front of a bus without a second thought if they were ever given the chance." He paused briefly, gathering his breath. "They hate me just as much as you do, Shizuo."

Chewing his lip vigorously, the blonde turned his gaze to his shoes.

"Well, who can blame 'em... I mean, you've pulled a lotta bullshit over the years, flea..." He murmured quietly.

Izaya smirked.

"Yeah, and the only reason I did those things was because I was all alone, and really, that was the only way I could get human interaction; the only way I could ever get the attention from other people that I truely needed..."

"Izaya...-"

"Shizu-chan, have you ever heard the phrase 'negative attention is better than no attention at all'?"

The ravenette closed his eyes and paused again.

"Shizuo, when those gang members shot me... I deserved it. I was an damn awful person and I received judgment."

Shizuo's mocha eyes widened behind his sunglasses.

"Why are you talking like that, you sound like you're d-"

"Shizu-chan, when I was shot, one of the bullets became lodged in the stem of my brain."

"W-What are you saying?"

The ravenette smirked again.

"I suffered through a brain aneurysm last night. I was lucky to survive. I'm life support right now, and I just finished signing all of the paperwork and getting my affairs in order, regarding my money and such..."

"N-No, Izaya-!"

"Shizu-chan, I've asked them to pull my plug tonight." Silence plagued the room like an incurable sickness.

The blonde just sat there, stunned, mocha eyes wavering, head shaking in disbelief. Izaya smiled sadly, shrugging as if to say there was just nothing else that he could do.

"N-No... You, you can't..." Shizuo stammered, his voice unstable, cracking.

"Why, it appears the poor protozoan has developed feelings for me...!" Izaya cooed, a brief glimpse at some of his old humor long forgotten.

Shizuo squeezed his eyes shut.

"Izaya, you, you can't die...! I haven't, ah, I haven't k-killed you yet! It's not fair...! No one's supposed to kill you but me...!"

The information broker chucked lightly.

"Still on that, are you...? Well, if you really want to, if it's that important to you, I suppose you could do it right now..." He laughed a bit louder, while Shizuo's face only grew more and more horrified.

"It's not like I'm going anywhere, anyway... Hell, it will take some of this goddamn waiting away..." Izaya's tone suddenly grew vacant and small, and he stared up at the ceiling.

"Shizuo, every second is going by so slowly... It's enough to make a man insane... I still have four hours left until the doctor comes in and my existence ceases completely..." But after he said this, he swallowed and forced a smile.

"I always figured I would die at your hands anyway, Shizu-chan... Go ahead and do it. I'm ready."

He spoke softly, looking over at the blonde former bartender with an expression somewhere between bittersweet sadness and relief.

Shizuo stared back for a long moment, then got up from the chair and made his way over to the edge of the hospital bed.

"I... I wanted this so badly. for almost ten years now, I wanted to be the one to feel your slimy body grow cold... And now..." The blonde's voice was low and hesitant, unsure of the situation at hand.

"Shizu-chan... please hurry... I want it to happen fast so I won't have to bear it for long..." Shizuo swallowed, before taking his hands away from the bedside railing and carefully wrapping them around the ravenette's throat.

Izaya's breath hitched, but he craned his neck gently upwards to give the blonde's hands better access. In response, Shizuo's fingers tightened slightly.

"...Sh- Shizu-chan... I'm so scared..." He breathed, his voice gasping although the bartender had not yet squeezed tightly enough to cut off his supply of air.

"It will be over quickly, I swear..." The other reassured. The ravenette tilted his head back and managed a soft cry, pinching his crimson eyes shut as the beginning of a cascade of tears streamed down his pale cheeks.

"I'm so scared, I don't want to die...! I want existence...!"

The blonde hesitated for a moment.

"Well, maybe... maybe there is an afterlife or somethin' waiting for you... maybe you'll become an angel..."

The words were meant to comfort, but instead they only gave rise to more tears.

"I don't believe in angels, Shizu-ch-chan! There isn't any such thing as an afterlife...! If there's no such thing as heaven or hell, then what is there...? Shizuo..." He whispered, his tone verging on desperation.

"Then... Then there is nothing."

The ravenette smiled painfully through his tears.

"No, Shizuo... Even 'nothingness' implies that I will exist to witness that nothingness... There won't be any time or space... When I die, I will cease to exist altogether, forever. Once I take my last breath, Izaya Orihara will cease to be completely..."

Shizuo grit his teeth and squeezed his hands around the information broker's neck. Izaya cried out, but found himself unable to make a sound. The blonde's sunglasses served as a shield hiding mocha eyes brimming with tears. The ravenette lurched forward, open-mouthed, gasping for the air that he was unable to obtain. His hands contorted and twisted, clawing desperately at the much stronger ones locked around his throat. But Shizuo still did not let go, crying out and shaking the patient by his neck, grip bruising and stronger than a vice.

"I don't want to do this, this isn't what I wanted for you, I'm only doing this because you asked me too...!"

Gurgling, straining himself and doing what ever he could to preserve his life, Izaya's eyes grew dilated and unfocused, his face turning colors; pink, red, purple, blue...

Before the color faded from his skin altogether... pale.

The heart monitor in the room let out a continuous, ear-splitting shriek.

Shizuo let the ravenette fall back to the bed.

Izaya did not stir.

His crimson eyes staring into that nothingness...

"Ugh, goddammit, flea...! L-Look what you m-made me do...! N-No, ah, fuck! Fuck! FUCK! This wasn't supposed to happen!"

He shouted, picking the still frame of the other up by his shoulders and attempting to shake him awake.

The lifeless, distant gaze in those crimson eyes...

"God dammit! Izaya! W-Wake up! PLEASE...!"

Now the blonde was begging, breaking down because he was unable to fix what he had done.

Like so many times before.

"G-Get the fuck up! Smirk and laugh and say this was all a big joke! Mock me and call me some complicated insult that you know I won't understand! P-Please! Just please, just WAKE UP!"

All of his heart was poured out into those words, he gave all he had, but just like all of the times before...

Nothing.

Desperate, he pulled the oxygen tube from the information broker's nose. Pumping his chest was not an option considered. Shizuo was too afraid of rupturing a lung, of crushing his ribcage,

with those hands of his...

He plugged the ravenette's nose with one hand and propped his head up with the other; pressing his mouth to Izaya's and trying his absolute hardest to force air into his lungs again.

He'd been the one to steal away his breath and now he was trying with all he had to give it yet...

It was all to no avail.

It truly was too late.

Destroyed, the blonde slumped down and buried his head into the information broker's chest.

He'd done it.

He'd actually, actually done it.

Stomped out the flea. Snuffed the life out of Izaya Orihara, a menace to society for more than twenty years. A man who'd taken enjoyment out of ruining his life on top of so many others.

After all this time, he'd finally done it.

...No.

No, what he'd done... What he'd done was kill someone in absolute cold blood. He'd strangled the life out of someone defenseless; a bed-ridden hospital patient who'd been unable to fight back.

He'd murdered a man who only sought from others their affection. Someone who had just never learned quite how to ask for that.

And he had deemed that to be a crime only punishable by death.

No...

The blood on his hands had not spilled from the Izaya Orihara he hated.

It belonged...

It belonged to someone who, all this time, had been just like him.

The scream of the heart monitor hitched, and so did the pace of his frantic heartbeat. He dare not move, only lay there. Frozen.

Eyes wide.

Relief washed over his being as his ears were filled with the sounds of coughing.

"Ahah, ugh... Sh-Shizu-chan...?"

The blonde sat up slowly, turning to face the patient lying in the bed.

The ravenette information broker smiled weakly, eyes barely open to crimson slits.

"It's... Just so ironic, isn't it..."

Shizuo blinked, his heart racing.

"W-What's ironic? Oh, we should probably put the oxygen thingy back in yer nose..."

"No, it's... it's fine. It's ironic that after all the years you've spent tryin' to kill me, someone else does me in first... That when you finally get the chance to take my life, all you want to do is bring me back..."

Shizuo bit his bottom lip.

"Well, it's not like that, I just can't do it if you can't fight back, it's not right, it's unfair, if, if you were up on your feet, then-"

Izaya coughed a few times, and the blonde trailed off.

"And it sure is ironic that... that I have to die in order to get you to k-kiss me... Shizu-chan..."

The former bartender's eyebrows furrowed slightly.

"Wha-... What are you talking about?"

Izaya's smile spread a little more.

"Silly Shizu-chan... you kissed me... Don't you remember...?" His voice was paper-thin, wispy and wounded, but defined with an air of both desperation and enchantment.

Shizuo paused for a moment.

"I, ah, I didn't- I was only trying to bring you back... CPR..."

Izaya closed his eyes and shook his head from side to side, the smile never fading.

"Only four hours left until you're rid of me for good, can't you put up with my 'bullshit' for just a bit longer...? Shizu-chan, let this poor, dying man believe what he wants to... Please don't ruin this for me, I don't have much time left."

"Ah, Izaya, don't talk like that-"

"Shizu-chan, I'm going to die."

"But Izaya-!"

The ravenette lifted a shaky hand and let it fall onto the other's shoulder, smiling sadly.

"There isn't any getting around it, Shizu-chan. Even if I chose not to have them take me off these machines... I would never fully heal. I would never be able to leave this hospital, much less this bed..." He hesitated, choking up slightly in his emotion, the words catching in his throat, tears threatening to overflow from his eyes.

"I took a bullet to my lower spine, and... and it's cut off some of the other nerves... Shizu-chan... I can't... I can't feel my legs... I could never walk again... Even if, I'd be stuck in this damn hospital in a wheelchair. I can't... Izaya Orihara can't do that... I can't live crippled, Sh-Shizuo... I've fashioned myself too many enemies, I'd rather put myself down then live the rest of my life in fear as half of the man I could be."

The blonde stood up, hands clutching at the bedside railing and gaze trailing down to the tiled floor.

Trying to comprehend what all of this implied.

Izaya placed a bandaged hand over one of the former bartender's, pausing for a moment to gather the words he needed to say.

"Shizuo... Don't you see what this means for you...? You'll be free of me... You can move on from all of this and get on with your life. You can get married and live peacefully, start a family and watch your kids grow up... Without having to deal with me and my bullshit anymore... So why is it you aren't happy I'll be gone...?"

Shizuo looked up and met Izaya's gaze emptily.

"Because I'm human."

The ravenette chuckled to himself and let his eyes fall closed.

"That means nothing."

Shizuo jumped forward and took hold of his shoulder.

"It means everything, Izaya. Someone once offered to kill you for me, someone who was fully capable of it. I told them not to, not because I didn't think you deserve it, and not because I wanted to do it myself, but because I didn't think any person truly had the right to commit such violence against another. No one has the right to decide who lives or dies. I wanted you to die in a way that punished you for all the awful things you did, but in a way that didn't stain a singe person's hands with your blood."

A Cheshire smile spread itself across Izaya's face."Alas...! The protozoan is a prophet in disguise, it seems."

Shizuo shook his head.

"No... I'm just not heartless, is all." He held his breath for a moment. "Izaya... You say you only have four hours left, right? ...Let me, ah, let me take you around the city one more time."

The ravenette pulled in his bottom lip thoughtfully.

"Shizu-chan... after all I've done to you... You would go out of your way to do that for me?"

The blonde former bartender nodded.

"None of that crap matters to me right now. What's four hours to me...? I doubt I'm just gonna drop dead anytime soon... Four hours means next to nothing to me, whereas to you, Izaya... It means absolutely-"

"Everything." The information broker finished for him, letting his crimson eyes fall closed, bowing his head.

"Call the nurse in here, Shizu-chan...

I would like to see my corrupt city one last time."

[[That's it for the first chapter~! I'll get to the second one, now. XD Thank you so much for reading, it really matters to me. As this is my first story on her, reviews are not only greatly appreciated, but they also help improve my writing and shape future chapters. Let me know I'm off to a good start, if you liked it, 'cuz I'm such a newbie on here! XD Again, thank you for reading~!]]