Rather than posting this as an additional chapter to Deal Before Dying, I figured I'd post it as a separate fic. I may or may not continue to expand on the original plot/theme, but for now I can at least offer this as a sort of sequel. I do not own the characters or universe. :)

Shizuo finds Izaya one night in front of his apartment, his eyes half-lidded and his breath coming in painful gasps that almost stir the gravel in front of him. Lying horizontal, as still as if every ounce of agility has been replaced with a leadenness that keeps him from moving. The blonde says nothing, strides past his rival and halfway up the front set of stairs before deciding that he might at least like an explanation. Hard to feel anger when the object of your hatred – probably hatred – is in a state like that. Harder still to feel empathy, but Shizuo is by no means a bad person.

"Weird place to take a nap," he comments as he stands over the informant moments later.

"Closest place," Izaya manages, with an aloofness that is clearly contrived. He wants help, needs help. Shizuo doesn't particularly want to offer it, but, then, he doesn't want the flea kicking it right in front of his apartment building, either.

He lifts Izaya up by the back of his collar, disregarding as he does so the sound of fabric tearing. "Find somewhere else," he demands threateningly, and the informant lets his eyes fall shut. Surrender? Or just plain exhaustion?

"Can't," Izaya explains, as if that should make everything perfectly clear. Damn. Shizuo could always just toss this bastard with as much force as he can muster – he'd fly several blocks, at least. Well, he'd probably die, too, and the blonde doesn't know if that could be considered fair given the circumstances.

So he sways the informant casually to and fro as he considers his options, notes with a certain amount of satisfaction the way the raven's body is completely limp – not a muscle tensed or ready to react to anything Shizuo might do. A helpless flea is a harmless one, too.

Oh, well – plenty of time to kill the bastard after making the fight a little fairer.

He carries him roughly, his slim body slung over one of the blonde's powerful shoulders in a totally undignified position. No struggle, no complaint but for a small, sharp intake of breath with every lurching step forward. Izaya's glad when the brute lets him down just inside the door and tosses him a pair of indoor slippers.

"Wear those," Shizuo commands, and the informant struggles to comply. His hands are cold and lacking feeling, so even getting his shoes off is proving a difficult task. The blonde's already finished switching his own pair out, and he sighs impatiently after watching the informant for another moment or two.

"Here," he says simply, and Izaya pulls his hands hesitantly back from his feet. Shizuo's really not gentle. He's not even trying to be – no, he's probably making a concerted effort to cause the informant as much discomfort as possible. Well, he's not throwing anything yet, at least, so Izaya figures he should count his few blessings. That's one, anyway.

Shizuo surprises him as usual, then, by carrying him from the front door on into a small kitchen – nothing fancy, because Shizuo can't possibly be making enough to pay the rent on a really sumptuous apartment – and offers him a glass of water. "Your lips are chapped," he explains rather shyly, and his cheeks darken to a light pink. Well, that's two – and three, Izaya supposes, because it must mean that the protozoan still remembers their little wager – their deal, their promise – of several months ago.

Focus, he cautions himself in the next instant. Hold the glass. It feels like it weighs a hundred or so pounds, and his hands shake terribly despite his best efforts to keep them steady. Again, Shizuo rolls his eyes after a period of relative silence, takes the thing and tips it so that the informant can drink. Not without some of the water inevitably spilling past his open mouth, of course, but he gets enough to quench his immediate thirst.

"Thanks," Izaya decides, and Shizuo frowns at him.

"You sick or something?" he asks, not bothering to tell the informant that he's welcome. He's not. Actually, Shizuo would really rather know what reason the bastard has for not fulfilling his end of their deal. No fight, no sign of the flea for ages. He'd started to wonder if the whole thing had just been some misunderstanding. Do a kiss and a promise usually end in nothing? No follow-up, not even a denial of the words they'd exchanged?

"Oh, you know," Izaya mutters somewhat boredly. "Just a little infection."

"Little," Shizuo repeats skeptically. "Ever heard of a doctor? Go see Shinra."

"Love to, Shizu-chan, but I can't quite move well. You didn't notice?"

"I was busy wondering where you've been all this time," Shizuo responds pointedly, and Izaya smirks.

"It's no fun if I don't play hard to get at first, you know," he rationalizes, realizing that that's not quite right.

I'm not trying to get you, moron. But that has a hint of untruth to it, as well – what the bartender actually says is, "You promised me a fair fight. Just playing around on an off day?" An informant should know not to make a promise he can't keep. Bad business, and dangerous if one's dealing with the wrong people.

Aw, Shizu-chan. You're just more sensitive all the time, aren't you?

Okay, so maybe covering the truth behind ambiguities is unnecessary in dealing with a guy like this. "It'd be nice if Shizu-chan'd come looking for me once in a while." Yeah, that's closer. Izaya doesn't care about love or whatever, but things like this general do work both ways.

"I follow your flea scent every time it pops up, don't I?" That – that was definitely Shizuo getting defensive.

Ah, this is too funny, too stimulating an amusement for Izaya's fever-addled brain. They're not threatening each other with death as they normally would, futility aside. Nope – this is like a married couple's spat. Izaya laughs, little light sounds that wash over the tension like the tiny waves where ocean meets sand, and Shizuo glares.

"Sorry, Shizu-chan, I just – ah, this is too much." Izaya watches Shizuo relax as the informant regains some of his usual vitality – four, Izaya decides. "Worried about me?" he teases, and Shizuo smirks.

"Who knows?" he responds vaguely. "So, you gonna tell me what happened?" He doesn't ask where Izaya's hurt – he felt it earlier, a slight wetness around the other's waist. A knife wound, maybe – something not deep enough to be life threatening until poor sanitation got it infected.

As the explanation goes, Izaya had indeed managed once again to maneuver himself onto the bad side of a volatile client. Thanks to that, he'd wound up suffering some mild retribution on the wrong end of his own switchblade. A few additional kicks to the chest and legs – and one particularly violent one to his head – had ensured that he wouldn't be going anywhere for a time. Not the worst beating he'd ever had, Izaya explains, but still bad enough that he would have preferred to avoid it. He'd had to use whatever was available to stop the bleeding, and bad luck had taken care of the rest. Irony seemed to be a big thing in the informant's life these days – luck was supposed to be on his side most of the time.

Not eager to die and realizing that that was a distinct possibility if things got a lot worse, he'd managed to drag himself as far as Shizuo's this morning. Lying there in the gravel ever since, not a single apartment resident had done or said anything for him – diffusion of responsibility, he supposes. He doesn't bother to explain what that means, and Shizuo doesn't ask. It's a psychology term, in fact, and Izaya knows it because psychology is perhaps one of the most useful fields for anyone as interested in human observation as he is.

"You deserved it," Shizuo says unsympathetically as the exhausted man falls silent at last. Izaya won't deny that, either. Without the need for further explanation, anyone should be able to guess that if someone is angry with Izaya, it's probably beyond justified.

"I'm not really mad about not hearing from you, flea," Shizuo adds. "I still want you to stay out of my city." The blonde's trying in his own way to convey a sort of apology, because he knows already – has finally sort of realized – that he has all the time he needs to wait. He's not mad at the flea for keeping his distance, but he does seem to miss him when he's not around.

"Oh, dear – am I being rejected already?"

"Idiot. What's there to reject?" An unmistakable rush of blood to the other's face. His chocolate eyes burn with embarrassment, and he makes it worse for himself by refusing to meet the informant's teasing gaze.

Shizuo, playing hard to get. Funny enough to count as a five. Today's not such a bad day, after all, and when Shizuo leaves him to call Shinra and then carries him – strong and warm against Izaya's exhausted body – in to his own bed, the only one in the house, he stops bothering to count. His luck's got him feeling sick – and he hates that more than anything – but it did manage to balance things out by giving him a pleasant-looking immortal to take care of all the complicated things.

Shinra's going to be pissed – called again by these two trouble-makers, and do you even know what time it is? – but Izaya won't have to worry, because he'll be sleeping soundly at Shizuo's side by the time the doctor shows up.

Six. Seven. Eight.

His breathing slows and the pain fades into a background of wakeful city and watchful monsters. All the greatest blessings of Ikebukuro, too many to count.