Izaya had decided that his holding cell was more boring than scary now. He had no idea of the time so he marked his days by sleeps. It had been four sleeps since he'd last been interrogated and three since he'd heard anyone mention Shizuo's name or what he was doing. Apparently they had seen some suspicious looking people snooping closer and closer to the thugs' hang out. This was making the boss nervous and he was getting closer and closer to contacting Shizuo or killing Izaya outright. Especially since Izaya had no useful information to give them willingly. While the raven was exceptional at reading people and their motives, even after 9 sleeps he still couldn't figure out why the boss was going to these lengths for a child. Oh sure, he knew they were trying to get to the blonde monster of Ikebukuro, but he's not a hard person to find. Why not just go to him upfront? Izaya shrugged his shoulders and walked over to the side of the room where he was marking his growth discretely. He also couldn't understand how those idiots hadn't realize that their hostage had grown 6 centimeters in 9 sleeps, but he wouldn't question it. The longer they remained oblivious, the better it was for Izaya.

He moved to the middle of the room when he heard voices coming down the hallway. "You sure this is safe?" one of the men asked.

"Oh please, he's just a kid."

"Yeah I guess you're right."

"Of course I am. Now move so I can unlock this damn door." The sound of the deadbolt turning echoed throughout the room and Izaya braced himself from a potential beating.

The male who first spoke walked into the room and grabbed the raven's wrist. "Boss wants to speak with you." He said gruffly.

"Well then why didn't he come to me? I hardly think I'm worth the trouble."

"We don't question the boss kid. You'd be wise to do the same." The man gestured to his companion to grab the raven's other wrist and the three of them left the small room for the first time in what felt like forever to Izaya. The small male looked at his surroundings curiously. The large expanse of decrepit hallway with a few doors and no windows was exactly where he imagined his kidnappers to have their base. He felt his back being prodded when he slowed down to glance at the tacky paintings hanging at regular intervals.

"What?" he asked innocently. "I was just admiring the delightful artwork."

"You've got a real sharp tongue kid," one of the men said, noting the child's sarcasm. "I'd watch it when you're around the boss if I were you."

"Ah, but you're not. And pardon me for saying, but I think I'm much more intelligent than you. I refuse to be stupid enough to let some thug push me around." His comment was met with a sharp backhand to the face.

"Just keep moving."

Izaya found himself sulking for the rest of the short trip. The trio traveled up a staircase hidden behind one of the doors and found themselves in an ornate but tacky living area. There was a large armchair sitting beside of a fireplace with a large man nestled into the overly plush cushions. The man gestured to his cronies to place Izaya onto the couch facing him. All three of them sat down on the loveseat with the child squished between the two thugs.

"So kid, your friend has been getting closer and closer to this place for the past few days so I think it's time we did something about your predicament." The boss said while crossing his legs and leaning farther back into the chair. Izaya almost laughed when the move made the older male's chin triple.

"What do you have in mind?" Izaya asked. This is it. The moment of truth.

The boss started visibly sweating at that point. "Well, after seeing what that monster can do, and seeing that he's not going to give up his search." The male paused and tried to collect his thoughts. "I've decided that the best course of action would be to put your scrawny ass up for ransom." He sounded unsure, but the words alone were enough to almost make Izaya scream in joy. His face fell, though when he saw the boss's face turn into a menacing sneer. "But we have to make it look believable."

"What do you mean?" Izaya tried to keep the trickle of the fear that he felt out of his voice.

The older male pulled a switch blade out of his pocket and caressed it down the child's face, almost lovingly. A bright red trail bloomed up in the blades wake and Izaya gulped.

"I think you can figure it out."

It had been almost two weeks since Shizuo had last seen his personal little annoyance. He spent most of his days at the Awakusu's art gallery whether waiting for a group of men to get back or chatting with Akabayashi. He rather liked the red haired male and found him to be much better company than the ever stoic Shiki. He was seriously starting to doubt the Yakuza's abilities, but the Red Demon always managed to keep him in decent spirits.

He left the art gallery and started walking towards Shinra's place. He hadn't been spending much time at home recently and while he found the bubbly doctor annoying most of the time, he figured it was better than the oppressive silence of his apartment. He caught sight of his disheveled appearance in a shop window and picked up his pace, practically jogging to his friend's apartment.

"Shizuo! Welcome back. Any progress?" Shinra greeted.

"Yeah," Shizuo replied while heading to the fridge for a glass of milk. "Akabayashi said that they think they have found their new hideout. Said we're going to go check it out tomorrow."

Shinra followed the blonde and perched on the countertop. "He's going to be fine you know?" he said soothingly. "I've known that bastard forever. He's the most resilient person I've ever met besides you. You two are in a league all your own." The doctor's eyes glazed over dreamily. "I wonder how much he's grown. You know I bet he's getting to be 8 or 9."

"It hasn't been that long dumbass."

"Maybe not, but you do realize he'll be a teenager soon. Will you be able to deal with him going through puberty?"

"Tch. If my parents could deal with me, I'm sure I can deal with the flea." Shizuo said after taking a big gulp of his milk.

"You do realize that having sex with a minor is illegal right?" Shinra said jokingly.

The blonde's blood began to boil. "What was that?" Shinra blanched at the dangerous tone to his friend's voice.

"N-nothing. I was just kidding!" he said laughing nervously. His giggles were cut off by the blonde knocking him off of the counter with his fist. "Shizuo!" Shinra whined, licking his bloodied lip. Shizuo walked over and picked the doctor up by the collar. He pulled his fist back and was about to hit the smaller male again when his cell buzzed. Sighing he dropped his friend unceremoniously and flipped open the orange device.

"A picture message?" he said aloud clicking on it. He started shaking with fury as his eyes scanned over the picture and the message attached quickly. The picture was of a little boy of about seven or eight with black hair and striking red eyes. Shizuo eyed the bruises marring his porcelain face and the deep gashing decorating his exposed chest. He was tied to a chair in a dingy looking room with a scrap of cloth tied around his mouth as a gag. His eyes had a defeated look in them which pulled at Shizuo's heart viciously. His grip tightened so much that he heard several pops could be heard as the plastic started to crush in his hands. Realizing the danger that his phone was in, he quickly tossed it to Shinra.

The doctor scanned over the message with contempt. The first thing he said was, "We don't have that kind of money Shizuo."

"YOU THINK I DON'T FUCKING KNOW THAT?!" Shizuo exclaimed. "But I refuse to leave him there. I will go to the meeting place without the money and take him back by fucking force."

"Shizuo, you just can't do that. I know you're strong, but they'll have weapons."

"I don't give two shits about any weapon they can shoot at me. Won't be the first time I've been shot and it sure as hell won't be the last."

Shinra looked at the blonde with a sad look that bordered on pity. "What about what they can shoot at Izaya? By the time you've fought through the first wave of guys, they can put a bullet into his head."

Shizuo didn't know how to respond to that. He quickly guzzled down another glass of milk and started pacing the room. "What do suggest we do then?" he asked finally.

"Hmmm. Celty's shadows should be able to stop them if they should try something. Ask Shiki if he'll send some guys too just in case." Shinra gazed back down at the phone. "We're not due to meet with them for another two days. Go home and get some rest and then go to the Awakusu in the morning. I'll talk with Celty once she gets back from the job she's at."

Shizuo growled. "Those bastards are dead."

Shinra smiled merrily at that. "As they should be."

"You do realize he's never going to be able to come up with that kind of cash," the small, bloodied raven said from the chair he was tied to.

"I'm well aware of that," the boss said irritated. "But no matter what he's going to show up. Probably with some guys from the Awakusu. This way we'll be able to take out you, Shizuo, and some of the Awakusu all at once."

Izaya cackled at that. "Do you really thing you stand any chance against the Awakusu? They'll rip you to shreds in a heartbeat. Especially if you kill any of their men. Shiki is very protective you know."

"Shut the hell up! You don't know what you're talking about brat!"

"I know more than you obviously." The boss slapped the child across his bruised cheek.

"Get this brat out of my sight," he barked to two of his cronies. "I'm going to go get something to drink."

Izaya felt the ties being loosened and sighed in relief when he could bend his stiff shoulders forward. He was immediately prodded in the back and instructed to move. They quickly moved back into the basement and Izaya was put back into his holding cell where he slumped down to the floor. He felt the twinge of his wounds with every move and he felt exhausted. He really hoped that Shizuo had some way of getting the money together. However he knew that even if he did, the boss was just trying to rid himself of those threatening him. He probably thought he could just kill Shizuo and take the money. If I couldn't kill that monster after almost 8 years, there's no way that idiot can get the better of Shizu-chan. The child felt a headache coming on and closed his eyes against the feeling. Hurry the hell up Shizu-chan. I'm getting sick of this place. Izaya's thoughts ebbed away as sleep overtook him.

Shizuo woke up the next morning feeling as tired as he did before he fell asleep. He got ready as quick as he could to get away from the oppressive silence of the apartment before heading down to the art gallery. He was greeted by the usual guards who let him in without any complaints. He made his way to where Shiki was usually found, but was stopped by an angry looking Akabayashi standing outside of the door.

"Don't go in there yet," the red demon said.

"Why not?" Shizuo asked, a growl lacing his voice.

"Your thug is getting bold. He's been selling drugs and the like in our turf. The cops are trying to pin this bullshit on us. Shiki isn't too happy to say the least."

Shizuo thought this over for a second before pulling out his phone and handing it to Akabayashi. "I don't know what to do about the drugs, but if that place we're looking at today turns out to be nothing, I've got another lead."

The other male eyed the message carefully, his eyes widening as he saw the picture of the abused child tied to the chair. "He wants to meet us? Is he stupid?" Akabayashi started laughing. "This guy doesn't know what he's gotten himself into, messing with the Yakuza."

"Are we still going to go check that place out today?" Shizuo asked.

"Yeah. Right now we're just waiting for Shiki to get the men together. We should be allowed in in a few minutes."

"Good. I've been itching to punch something for a while now." Shizuo cracked his knuckles menacingly.

"Yeah, I bet you've got some pent up energy what with Izaya not being around to be your personal punching bag." Akabayashi looked contemplative for a minute. "You know Shizuo that kid sure looked an awful lot like the informant. He doesn't have some kids running around does he?"

The blonde paled a bit. "Ah…well..You see..that kid is Izaya." Shizuo said softly.

Akabayashi's eyes grew comically wide. "I think we need to get your mental health checked out Shizuo. There's no way that a full grown man can look like a kid."

"I assure you, it's true. I was even there when he sent Shiki the email saying that he was going to be on medical leave. I don't know everything, but some new drug that his secretary came up with changed him. It's not permanent though. He looks so much older in that picture than the last time I saw him."

"I'm still not sure I believe you, but if it is true, this changes everything."


"That's our informant in there! I don't think you realize how important he is." The door flew open just then and a disgruntled looking Shiki peered out.

"What are you two idiots yelling about?"

"Shizuo's gone crazy!" Akabayashi said coolly while he strode into the room. "Go ahead and tell him Shizuo."

"That kid that I'm taking care of, it's Izaya."

"So you're saying that you lied to me about it being a child that had been kidnapped?" Shiki asked, a dangerous edge to his voice.

"No, he's a child…"

Shiki's eyes narrowed. "I'm not entirely sure I follow."

Shizuo pulled his phone out for a second time and scrolled to the message he'd received last night. He showed it to the executive. "Look I know it's hard to believe, but you can even ask Shinra. That child is Izaya."

"…..It does look an awful lot like him…" Shiki eyed the photo carefully. "and I suppose I have seen more unnatural things…and this would explain his absence."

"See?" Shizuo asked animatedly.

Shiki tossed the phone back to the blonde and walked back into the room. "What doesn't make sense is why you care."


"We all know that you hate each other."

"Oh." Shizuo looked away. "He's still a bastard. And I still hate him. But he's really not the same as a kid. He's just staying with me until this drug wears off. After that things will go back to the way they always were."

Shiki looked as though he didn't believe a word coming out of the blonde's mouth but didn't question it further. "Very well. I've got everything set up if you want to go ahead and go and check that place out." Shiki waved the two males off. "Good luck."

Gah! So sorry for the slow updates. I've had three research papers and two novel projects due so I've been swamped. I've got everything done, but one of the research papers which has to written entirely in Spanish. Hopefully I should be able to get back into the swing of things now. Don't forget to review~~