"S-shit, it's acting up again."

A fist clenched tightly with nails digging through the dirt underneath while the other hand desperately gripped on the shirt over his chest. Fits of coughs shortly followed one after the other as the person tried to breathe in vain.

Orihara Izaya chokingly laughed at the situation he got himself into.


A tall figure perked up, his senses tingling with anticipation as he felt a certain presence. His aqua-tinted glasses glinted under the glare of the setting sun as he stopped in his tracks.

"It stinks."

Even with the loud buzzing in every corner, those words came in clear to the person in front of him. Consequently, the dreadlocked man also came to a halt and gave out a rather tired but nonetheless understanding sigh as he faced his partner.

"We'll end for tonight, Shizuo. Don't forget to take a breather," Tom said and with a lazy wave of his hand, he went ahead. With the said man left to himself and nothing better to do, he resumed walking among the crowd of people aimlessly. The blonde habitually hung another cigarette between his lips and attempted to light it.

Attempted.

If only that stench hadn't bothered him since he parted ways with Tom.

"KYAA!"

From a distance, a reckless man tore through the crowd as if he was trying to run away from pursuers. Pushing one citizen after another, it seemed like the man didn't mind of who got injured in the process of escaping.

CRASH.

Probably including him. Even if he noticed the man, Heiwajima Shizuo doesn't give way to just anyone.

Rubbing his just bumped shoulder, he came to see that the man around his late thirties sprawled out ungracefully on the sidewalk while rubbing the back of his neck.

"H-He-Heiwajima!" Eyes widened in horror as realization dawned on him upon looking up the bartender suited man. Other people present, not wanting to be involved, started to clear out as they heard the man's scream. But, as this is Ikebukuro, interested bystanders started flipping their mobile phones as if this everyday occurrence wasn't a threat to their life anyway but a rare phenomenon instead.

"Eh, bastard! You're the one who ran away the other day!"

Shivering in fear, the man scrambled off to another direction as fast as he could. Unfortunately, he had to mess with Ikebukuro's most powerful man.

"Don't think you can run away again, you fucking shit!" After effortlessly uprooting a vending machine that was chosen victim for violence, he flung it across the streets of Ikebukuro but wasn't able to successfully hit the target, missing by as much as half a meter.

With a click of the tongue, Shizuo was about to give chase when he sensed that again. Instinctively, he spun around to face an empty alley..

To find a knife slicing through his sleeve the next second.

"Well, I didn't expect to see you tonight, Shi-zu-chan~"

From an emergency stairway, a sinister expression haughtily looked down at the ex-bartender as he unconsciously dropped his unlit cigarette. Growling, he reached out to a 'Pedestrian Traffic' sign that easily bent under his uncontrolled strength.

"IZAYAAAAAA! Didn't I tell you to stay out of 'bukuro!"

The informant smoothly landed on the pavement below him, his signature jacket fluttering against his body. With an unfading grin, he flicked his wrist to reveal another blade snapping out to join the play.

"Who says I can't court to my beloved humans? And besides," Izaya elegantly stepped to his side to dodge the sign that whizzed by, "I have a monster that missed me oh-so-much the past few days."

"Haa? Like hell I did!"

And let the chase begin.

- x -

The sun had set and evening lights lit up the city. The two kept the peak of their game for almost an hour. The blonde unfailingly followed through Izaya's every step: crowded streets, narrow alleys, and even passed by Russian Sushi. Unfortunately (is it?), Simon wasn't out giving pamphlets so there was no one to stop the brawl.

At the next minutes, they arrived to a deserted park. Shizuo wasn't keen on observing, but Izaya was unusually starting slowing down a lot faster than he would in a regular chase. Finding this odd but nonetheless a rare opportunity, the ex-bartender made his way of snatching up a garbage bin.

"Drop dead, you fucking flea!" And it was sent flying.

He expected the informant to have planned something cunning again for his strange actions..

*BAM*

But even with a reckless aim, a strong hit on the back sent him crashing on the grassy patch.

Shizuo walked towards the smaller man's figure that was just slinking down in a failure to attempt standing up after being hit.

"S-shit.."

The ex-bartender caught himself hearing those from the informant with another string of words that were almost inaudible to hear.

"HA? Were you trying to say something, flea?" A laugh that simply escaped from the other's lips was just enough for Shizuo's never patient nerves to snap. His hand shot out to attack the person's weakening form, tumbling over the ground with fingers threatening to tighten around the pale neck.

As much as the blonde wanted to end all of this, he only held on the lithe man's throat firmly but not enough to actually choke him. He'd rather beat some sense out of this psychopath than quickly ending his pathetic life.

"I finally have you, I-za-ya-kun." Canines flashed dangerously back at his prey that is now trapped under him.

A hand was raised, ready to have the first blow, although what he noticed afterwards stopped him. Izaya's breathing turned shallow as his hands both held the assaulting grip at his throat and tried to pry them away as much as he could. But more than a fight for life, Shizuo could only feel light fingertips that seemingly shook violently in fear.

"I-Izaya?"

Only heavy breaths replied to him.

"Oi! Stop acting so weak! You know it doesn't work on m-"

"Shut the f-.. haa.. I really can't.." The blonde started to hear the shallow breathing being accompanied by unusual wheezing sounds. The brunet's complexion turned sickly pale while he struggled for air.

"Oh shit, you weren't joking." Shizuo released his grip on Izaya as his mind juggled on what he has to do in their current situation.

"W-why," lying on the grass, the informant held on his shirt tightly, "can't gods.. be allowed to get sick.. ha.. once in a while?" The informant let out a rather weak chuckle at the blonde's actions as the brunet tried to pick himself up but wheezy coughs racked his chest into another troublesome fit.

"Just.. let me off for today." Izaya wobbled to stay up on his feet while his breathing stayed unstable.

'I'm letting my chance go.' Shizuo's eyes simply followed the man's weakened state.

Fists clenched and unclenched.

To breathe is to live.

Growling, a sudden pull to the wrist brought Izaya crashing to Shizuo..

But in times, even breathlessness makes one feel alive the most.

.. And strong arms wrapped around him in a gentle way.

"H-hah..? Shizu- agh!" Coughs pained his ribs as Izaya buried his face over Shizuo's chest and his hands unconsciously held on the wrinkling vest. The action only encouraged the blonde to hold the person in his arms even tighter while rubbing his back comfortingly.

Realizing his actions, the smaller man tried to pry Shizuo away from him. "S-Shizuo! I don't.. hah.. need your pity!"

Instead of answering back to Izaya, he did something uncharacteristic of himself.

A kiss to the chest.

Dazed by the action, Izaya was easily swayed by Shizuo's gentleness and leant back to him.

An hour that seemed like minutes passed between the two, Izaya's breathing started to even out but the attack appeared to wear out the informant. Seeing this, Shizuo decided to contact Celty to accompany him in bringing in Izaya to Shinra's.

Resting the informant on a nearby bench, the said man nearly passes out of exhaustion. After a relieved sigh, a large hand gently brushed through ebony locks.

"I'll be the one who will take your last breath so don't you dare die on me because of a fucking sickness, you damned flea."

Even as the words slowly fade one by one from his hearing, Izaya held out a small smile from what had just been uttered.

'But.. you already did.'