disclaimer: don't own.

inspiration from an anonymous from Tumblr. thank you for allowing me to write your idea!


chapter one: infiltration

"Right. No, no… left. No…!"

"Have Celty text it to me."

Orihara Izaya's voice was sharp as he hissed into the black cell phone he had pressed to his face. The device had long ago warmed to his cheek and the informant dared to admit that perspiration had strands of black hair stuck to his face, his cool composure marred with anxiety. Even with the white lab coat and a stolen ID attached to the breast pocket with a clip, Izaya knew his disguise would be recognized sooner or later. In a government facility with high security as this one, identification cards were only to swipe his way into facilities. The man's fingerprint that Izaya had borrowed was carefully on a piece of tape that he adjusted so that a glance would see nothing wrong with his hand.

Sharp elbows made for effective weapons to knock one out and it wasn't particularly difficult for Izaya to drag the unconscious body into a bathroom stall and leave him there, switching their clothes. A gun rested in the waistband of his pants, the too snug fit comforting after the metal warmed to his skin. It was in an easily accessible place, should he need it—and Izaya hoped not, because he did quite love his humans, and it would make a bigger commotion than he cared for.

Sooner or later, though, someone wouldn't just glance at pale skin, black hair, and glasses and match the picture on the identification to Izaya's. There were differences, yet Izaya chose someone that looked somewhat similar to him. The coat was slightly too big on him, and hid the visible bulkiness below that would arouse suspicion, and Izaya was only too grateful to be able to keep his pants on—dark slacks were common—as the crisp white shirt felt baggy on his slender shoulders. Taking advantage of the bagginess, he had clothes wrapped around his slender abdomen, an extra pair of pants and a shirt, carefully folded and concealed to the best of his ability. Uncomfortable, surely, but a safe feeling of something around his body.

A thin finger came up to push the glasses further up the bridge of his nose as he gave a curt nod to a fellow "co-worker" pass by. He had infiltrated the security footage in this building for weeks prior to this and knew the typical behaviors well. Studies of maps late into the night—with coffee from Namie as company—had the building's structure engraved in Izaya's mind and he easily navigated his way to the innermost chamber reserved for one thing that would be illegal—if it wasn't the government itself:

Human testing.

The two words had Izaya's blood running cold and he scowled, mask that he donned to be looked at as a researcher slipping. It happened and he had always known it, yet it was kept so quiet that it was easy to forget. The very idea that his humans, his precious humans, were being tested on disgusted him—and Heiwajima Shizuo was no different. Shinra had been the one to tell him, bringing it up casually when Izaya was over—although the informant would detect the strain in the doctor's cheery voice.

"Hey, Izaya… you know, right?"

Crimson eyes peered over the rim of his coffee mug to look at Shinra. Celty was behind him, seeming to have come to join them from her place at the desk with her computer at the sudden shift in conversation. There was a strange sort of forced smile on Shinra's lips, and his hands were curled nervously on his knee, body language that made it easy to see something was wrong. Izaya had come over at Shinra's request, the doctor proclaiming they hadn't seen each other for a while. When the answer from Izaya was that it was because Shizuo hadn't tried to kill him, there was a pause in Shinra's laugh, before a confirmation of a date and time.

"Know what?" the raven drawled. His own curiosity was stifled beneath his look of nonchalance; the only questions he would be the one to ask anyone would be where Heiwajima Shizuo was these past few days. It was nearing two weeks now and he had disappeared. It seemed a letter of resignation had been left to Tom and a voicemail to Kasuka, yet that was it. Heiwajima Shizuo had vanished without a trace, although Izaya had his own suspicions. The way the letter was written seemed to be unlike how Shizuo would write, littered with complex sentences and a vocabulary so large that even Izaya almost had to tug out a dictionary from his bookshelf. Kasuka wouldn't let the raven near his phone, but admitted that, while it was his brother's voice, there was a certain stilt to it.

Izaya's head tipped back to drain the rest of the coffee before he set the mug down on the coffee table. Arms draped over the back of the couch and legs crossed, as if he were at home, and he looked to Shinra with a lopsided smirk. Shizuo could wait, he thought, he would find him eventually. Two weeks hardly seemed like a long time if one wasn't expecting death threats. Perhaps he was on vacation or resting, visiting parents? Tom and Kasuka showed signs of concern, but Izaya wasn't.

After all, he wouldn't mind if Heiwajima Shizuo was dead.

"Shizuo…"

Red eyes showed a gleam of surprise when the name of the blond dripped from his lips, a silence following after. Izaya found himself having to force his body to not lean forward to be able to pick up on Shinra's soft words, interest having been caught. Yet, he allowed his face to contort into something resembling curiosity with an arched brow and waited until Shinra continued. The doctor's face was downcast, yet a frown was evident; even from Celty, Izaya sensed a sudden change, although he wouldn't be able to pinpoint it with the different pattern of the shadows from her neck.

"He… he's been taken by the government."

For the first time in a very long time, Orihara Izaya's breath hitched just as Shinra's expelled in his explication.

"They called me… so I know. They're the ones that wrote the letter to Tom and I'm guessing they used some sort of a drug to have Shizuo leave that voicemail… using him to test drugs among other things, probably. His endurance is known throughout the country and I suppose they've decided that he would be a good test subject because of his stamina—and just because they're curious. I think they'd leave his physical being alone, as in not do anything invasive, but he would probably be subjected to non-invasive mental and physical tests. I can see why but…"

"Get to the point, Shinra."

Izaya's cold voice had Shinra jumping but he nodded, fixing his glasses. The doctor's eyes wouldn't raise to meet his and Izaya found no reason to be upset at that; surely, if Shinra looked now, he would be appalled at the sincere disgust laced in hues of a muddy rose. It seemed difficult for Shinra to recount what he had heard and Izaya wondered how long he knew, how long did it take him to work up the courage to talk to him about this?

"They called me because I know him, because of my work. Said… said they needed someone like me to…"

Shinra didn't finish his sentence and Izaya didn't need him to; various endings to the statement fluttered in his mind, but none of them could quell the nausea that threatened to rise in him. Giving a sigh, Izaya's head lolled forward, until black strands of hair covered his gaze, framed his face. It was silent and he could hear every badump, badump of his heart in anticipation as he tried to process the situation.

He hadn't been missing; Shizuo had been taken.

Thoughts of not minding if Shizuo was dead escaped Izaya's mind; he didn't mind, but that was only if Shizuo's death came from Izaya's doing. Testing, Shizuo was being used by them and being exploited, against his will. Used. It was vile, the entire concept of human testing, and Izaya's body wanted to shiver with trembles of horror, yet he held his composure. Shinra's words echoed in his mind as he calmed himself; in a situation like this, logic was needed. After all, he was Orihara Izaya; if Heiwajima Shizuo was a beast, then Orihara Izaya was logic itself.

Shinra and Celty were deadly still, as if movement detonated anger, and Izaya found he was holding his breath when he looked up, a smirk, a feigned one that was immaculate, on thin lips.

"Aah… Shinra, call them back, will you? We're going to need quite a bit of information…"

Because he hated Heiwajima Shizuo but he was his.

No one else had to know about him, only Izaya. No one else could kill him, only Izaya. No one else had any business regarding Heiwajima Shizuo, except Orihara Izaya.

Pallid fingers gripped the card again and slid it through the reader. A taped index finger pressed to the glass and a green light illuminated, a heavy door sliding open. Izaya's breath hitched, knowing this was the last door and that from now on it was just a matter of finding the right room and convincing Shizuo to go with him. Everything in the facility was of the latest technology, something expected, and Izaya was surprised no robots roamed the hallways, something he always found dryly amusing in science-fiction movies.

He was alive, Shinra had assured him the moment they began planning, they had no intention of killing him, wanting to use his body for other means. Izaya could see a flicker in Shinra's eyes, a mix of disgust and interest, and immediately said he didn't want to know what the bodyguard was enduring. Most certainly, if Shinra was disgusted that meant something horrible was being done to someone he considered a friend, but his interest was what worried Izaya; if Shinra found it interesting…

Don't think about that.

A stern command was issued to the man from himself. Black heels clicked against the clean floor, fluorescent lights illuminating the bare hallway. It smelled sterile and Izaya kept his eyes ahead, searching for the room number that Shinra had given him. He had pocketed his phone and was using a Bluetooth instead, something he found all right to do because of the large majority of other researchers who did the same. It was off, as he hung up on Shinra because hearing his friend's anxiety would do nothing for his own, and the Bluetooth fit into his ear, a comforting weight. It wasn't often that Izaya was nervous, but in a situation like this, sneaking into a top secret government facility with the intention of stealing someone, he thought it was perfectly fine for him to admit he was nervous.

A few more phone calls between Shinra and the facility, added onto Izaya's own information, was enough for him to formulate a plan. Hours were spent in front of the computer and all work was put on hold; Orihara Izaya had 'private matters' to attend to, he had Namie send to all of his clients, and any attempt to interrupt him would result in information "accidentally" being leaked out. He didn't want to be disturbed, needed no distractions; all his efforts and concentration were to be put on this one project—it seemed that was the pattern when it came to Shizuo. Kasuka wasn't told, neither was Tom, and Izaya figured he would come up with a story later.

Shinra was had the officials under the ruse that he was considering agreeing to help them, using that to milk out information to where Shizuo was, should he want to visit, and what sort of experiments were being performed—and he told only the bare minimum to Izaya, just enough to ensure that Shizuo would be able to walk. If it wasn't for his trust in Shinra, Izaya would've tapped his phone, but staying at the doctor's apartment all day and all night was enough. Namie seemed to have figured it out relatively easily—even if he tried, Izaya knew he wouldn't be able to stop the woman from figuring out something she was curious about. He felt she was trying to help, in her own subtle way, leaving him articles of antidotes for a variety of drugs that were currently being tested, going even so far as to murmur 'they do a lot more testing on drugs before they resort to human testing, no matter who it is.'

"Ah, you're being nice to me."

"Corpses can't sign paychecks."

Izaya stilled in front of a door and closed his eyes, taking a breath and straightening his coat. A nameplate with 'CE826' was next to the door, and the vertical window had criss crosses on it. Yet, Izaya didn't look through it; he didn't want to see Shizuo before he had to. It was tinted, but one glance and Izaya knew he'd be able to see blurs and shadows, more than he was ready for at the moment. His face felt warm but there were cold prickles alighting his cheeks. He almost wished he had the Bluetooth on, even static would help with the suffocating silence.

The last conversation he held with Namie before departing with Shinra and Celty had been one he knew the woman was wondering about for as long as this had been going on—another two weeks, so Shizuo had been here for a total of a month—and was surprised she waited so long to answer. It was a simple, one word question asked with all sincerity and no hint of mockery or amusement.

"Why?"

"Ha?"

Namie was looking at him and Izaya took his eyes away from the papers regarding the facility's security measures to look at her. The woman was silent and Izaya could see the almost unnatural traces of curiosity spark in her eyes.

"Why do you care so much about Shizuo?"

The answer was simple, he had assured her, and that was all he said.

A hand reached out and gripped the grey door handle, pushing it down and opening the door. The scent of sterility intensified and Izaya felt almost a gust of wind pushing him in. He took exactly three steps and let go of the door, allowing it to close behind him. It closed smoothly—one of the few doors that wasn't operated by electricity—and Izaya found that he wanted to be on that other side for just a couple more moments.

Getting in was easy. It was terribly hard for Shinra to make another identification card, but he did so, and the Izaya knew his best friend well enough to know how he would answer questions. He made it through the front desk easily—but that was as far as he would go. Upon waiting for the interview, he told the receptionist he suddenly had an appointment of the most pressing matters that he had to attend to. She looked surprised but Izaya apologized, saying that it was his fault, and he disappeared through the door and into a bathroom. 'Kishitani Shinra' had signed in at the desk and signed out; Izaya could only hope that was enough for his friend to not be a target of any attempts to find Shizuo. It should be, although the close coinciding times and relations would make it difficult.

It only took a few minutes for a researcher to pass by the bathroom, empty at these hours (something Izaya knew through hours of piecing together patterns from video surveillance.) He pulled him in and landed a swift hit on the back of his neck after elbowing him in retaliation. Izaya left the bathroom, tugging on his white lab coat with an extra set of clothes carefully wrapped around his body and hidden and looked confident, even giving a smirk that he swallowed—those sorts of facial expressions were uncommon in this area. He navigated through the building rather easily; memorization came easily to what seemed to be a nearly (or perhaps completely) photographic memory, and that comfort gave Izaya confidence.

But stepping into that room, all traces of confidence left Orihara Izaya.

Seeing his supposed enemy in such a situation had him forgetting to breathe for a moment. Izaya knew Shizuo as the fortissimo of Ikebukuro, the monster, the strongest man. But as he laid on the bed, skin so white and frame so thin, Izaya nearly didn't recognize him, had it not been for the blond hair. His height had his body taking up nearly the entire bed, yet, width wise, he seemed so small. The door closed behind him quietly with a click and Izaya took steps forward, quiet, padded footfalls.

He swallowed, again and again, trying to hydrate his throat enough to voice something. Natural poise held his body up and coat hanging straight; otherwise, the sight would have his body folding. The quiet beep of the machine was annoying him, not so much the high-pitched rhythm but that it was hooked up to the man. With a scowl, Izaya clicked it off; he regained composure quickly, just in case someone walked in, just in case he had to come up with an excuse.

The silence that followed was heavy and suffocating and Izaya had to take a moment. Fingertips brushed against together in a rhythm to calm himself as he took several breaths, listening to his own breathing. But he was wasting time, he knew; he was suddenly so conscious of the Bluetooth in his ear and swallowed, wishing again that there was a voice on the other end of the line.

"Hey. Shizu-chan. Time to leave."

He tried to sound light hearted, as if he was hoping that when brown eyes opened, the usual reaction of a murder attempt would happen. But Shizuo didn't stir, not at first, and that gave Izaya the time necessary to see all the wires attached to him. A rare fit of anger overtook the composed informant and he found himself ripping them off, every last needle and tube until his body was bare. No blood beaded from where there had been metal and skin seemed lighter from where bandages and tape were ripped off. The hospital gown Shizuo was in dipped where his body had lost fat and flesh; Izaya could see the concaves that had shadows pooled in them and he cringed; always slender but never thin, he had described Shizuo as, and it seemed awfully wrong. His eyes were closed but bags were still apparent and dark.

His eyes were closed and Izaya wanted them open, if only to confirm that they could open. He tried to reassure himself that Shinra said Shizuo would be alive and, when a slight hand had two fingers under Shizuo's jawline, a heartbeat was confirmed. Slow, almost lethargic, but definitely present. Shizuo didn't look peaceful, but not tortured, and Izaya wondered if sleep was the safest time for him.

The thought made him want to hurl.

"Heiwajima Shizuo. Wake up right now."

The coolness that Izaya usually carried himself with evaporated and a hand reached out, shaking him. Shizuo's body moved far too easily with the movements of Izaya's hand and every shake was more fervent. The cot began to creak and Izaya only shook him harder; a flurry of desperation was in his eyes and he tried to calm himself, tell himself that Shizuo was alive. If the machines were attached, the man wondered if the sounds they recorded would be any different—it would have showed signs that something was happening and that was better than nothing.

"Why do you care so much about Shizuo?"

The answer Izaya hadn't voiced, but he knew it the entire time.

"I'm the only one that needs to know about him."

He's mine.

Slowly, he could see stirrings in the man's body and kept a hand on Shizuo's shoulder as the vehement shaking shut. Beneath eyelids, Izaya could see movement and his body froze as he awaited for them to open. Slowly, lashes lifted and he saw brown and white, coupled with a glassy, dazed look that he hoped was permanent.

"…Shizu… chan?"

The informal suffix slipped from Izaya's mouth, trying to keep a tone of normalcy, despite his cracked voice. Shizuo was looking at nothing, expression blank and eyes looking straight up. But when he heard Izaya, he slowly moved his head to look at him slowly.

And the way Shizuo looked at Izaya was terrifying.

Empty, those brown eyes were empty, and Izaya wondered if there would ever be anything to rid them of that hollowness again. He was looking at him with a child's innocence and naivety, something Izaya had no possession of but knew Shizuo had—to some extent. But this was too much, like he had reverted to a child's mentality and if it was a self defense mechanism of the body, then…

"Don't!"

It was the first word he spoke and Izaya nearly jumped back at the way Shizuo flinched away, realizing the physical contact. He sat up and brought a hand to where Izaya had touched him, staring at him with wide eyes and it dawned on Izaya that physical contact was the worst thing to do; he didn't want to think of what he had been subjected to.

"Shizu-chan," he tried, holding his hands up, showing him his palms, "Shizu-chan, I'm not going to hurt you, I…"

"Stay away!"

He was scared, Izaya saw, the first semblances of true fear in Shizuo's eyes. He never looked that scared while fighting with Izaya or anyone else, and suddenly there was such an abundance of fear that his brown eyes were like bottomless pits. His body was shaking and he regarded Izaya so warily that the informant began to wonder if he really did look like a monster; how to calm him down, Izaya thought, how did he calm someone down who was most probably betrayed by every human being in this building?

"Shizu-cha… Shizuo," he shook his head and darted a glance at the door, hoping the noise didn't attract attention. "Shizuo, we have to get out of here. I'm not one of them, all right?"

He had been frantic, so frantic that he didn't even think of stripping himself of the clothes he donned. The glasses were thrown off as well as the coat and Izaya searched his body for anything to remind him, to prove to Shizuo that he wasn't a researcher. Fingers passed over a bulge in his pockets and he remembered his flick blade; it was pulled out and flipped it open, although didn't point it at him.

"Shizuo," he tried again as he held the knife, "look, I'm not a researcher. Izaya. Orihara Izaya."

He didn't say anything, but Izaya could tell by the surprised look instead of fearful one that something had shifted. He let out a sigh of relief and dared to move closer as the blade pocketed. Since the white coat had fallen away from his shoulders, he detected Shizuo relaxing and it made sense; the researchers were most probably identified by those coats.

Without quite thinking and doing what he thought was natural, what he had done to Mairu and Kururi when they were children and had woken from a nightmare, Izaya found himself resorting to an older brother. One hand reached up slowly and wrapped around Shizuo's wrist gently and slowly, guiding his hand so the blond's palm was towards him. Izaya's other hand came up and gently pressed to Shizuo's, matching their hands.

"See?"

Izaya looked at him, his face betraying no emotion, watching the way Shizuo's body relaxed as he stared at their hands.

"I'm not here to hurt you."

It had always worked for Mairu and Kururi. Whenever they awoke screaming, certain that the boy who ran into their rooms was the bad guy from their dreams and not a sleep-deprived older brother that had to take care of his little sisters, pressing their hands together, murmuring quietly always calmed them down. To see that it worked on Shizuo was comforting, yet confirmed that his mentality had altered and Izaya could only hope it wasn't permanent.

The silence in the room echoed around them, filling the space between the two and Izaya found himself growing prickled with annoyance. The kindness and patience he wore was a feint; they needed to get out of here, he would do anything he had to in order to achieve that. But Shizuo's surprise was genuine and the lack of anger that was present on his expression made Izaya want to snap at him.

But he'd wait; he wouldn't force Shizuo, make this any harder than it already was. A quick glance at the door told him that no one was going to enter the room, and he gave a sigh at that. While his back had been turned, a sudden squeeze alerted his senses and he nearly flinched, had it not been for a sharp mind that remembered his hand was linked with Shizuo's.

It was beyond eccentric to hold such a peaceful moment with him, be the one to calm him instead of annoy him. The way Shizuo held his hand was too intimate for Izaya and he glared at the way long fingers curled between his, gripped at his palm. He was shaking, Izaya thought with disgust, he was scared.

Shizu-chan, this is pathetic.

The thought filtrated into his mind, even though he knew Shizuo had every reason to react this way. No matter how strong he was, he, Izaya supposed, was human—in the most basic sense. He had most probably been physically, emotionally, mentally violated, and here was a shell of the most feared man in Ikebukuro.

You're not my Shizu-chan anymore.

Heiwajima Shizuo.

"Shizuo," he said quietly. "We need to go. Shinra and Celty are waiting."

Shizuo still didn't move and Izaya had to give a sigh, recollect himself. Patience was something he had plenty of under normal circumstances, but the current irked him beyond belief. This wasn't Shizuo. This wasn't the Heiwajima Shizuo that Orihara Izaya was the rival of. This was some pathetic shell, some remnant of the fortissimo of Ikebukuro. He was weak and scared, timid and shaking, he was disgusting. So human.

You're not allowed to be human.

You're a beast.

"Shizuo?"

This time recognition seemed to alight hazel eyes and a slow, miniscule nod was given. Izaya took a step back and their hands lost the contact. Legs were slow in the way they swung over the side of the cot, the pathetic excuse of a bed creaking with the way he moved. Izaya watched as Shizuo stood slowly, fingers curling to support himself. Bare feet made contact with the floor and it took him a few minutes to stand by himself, slowly putting weight onto his feet.

Have you not walked at all?

"Good," Izaya said instead of the question he thought. His hand slipped beneath his coat and reached under his shirt—he was thankful no one particularly looked and the clothes he donned were too big—and handed the shirt and pants to Shizuo. "Can you put these on?"

It was like talking to a kindergartner and Izaya was growing wearisome, but knew interrogating him would have to wait once they got out. Leading a patient around the facilities was far too obvious and Izaya didn't know enough about the medical procedures here to procure a lie. Saying this was a fellow researcher that had forgotten his identification was far easier and probably more plausible to believe.

As the hospital gown slipped off of Shizuo's body, Izaya cringed at the bones that showed beneath skin too pale. There were bruises and scabs—probably from testing, he thought dryly—and Shizuo didn't seem to feel Izaya's gaze. Slowly, almost painfully, he slipped the new clothing on. Like Izaya's second set of clothes, they proved to be a bit too big, but larger was better than smaller, especially for somewhere like this. While he had been getting dressed, Izaya was doing the same, putting on what he had thrown off in a frenzy earlier.

"Shoes…"

Izaya frowned as he looked down at Shizuo's bare feet and the crisp slippers beside them. They didn't show any signs of use and didn't seem to be any use; most probably they were there for show, a desperate plea to show humanity from the wretched.

"Shizuo, wait here."

Another nod was given and Shizuo slowly sat back onto the bed. Turning on his heel, Izaya walked through the facility with more confidence than he had this entire time, veering into a supplies closet whose location he had memorized a while ago. If anyone asked, Izaya was ready to say a curt 'spill' as he brought back shoes he had found—in a place such as this, where uniform was of such high importance, he even found an extra lab coat—and returned to Shizuo's room without a rush.

He was in the same position, looking as blankly as he did before. When the door opened, he turned to it, yet his expression didn't change as Izaya approached him.

"Here."

The shoes went on easily and the length of the pants obscured the fact he had no socks on. But the white coat he was wary of; Shizuo stared at it for several moments and Izaya had to ask again for him to take it. Slowly, fingers reached out and curled around the fabric but jerked back, as if they sent a shock through him. Izaya stayed still and waited for him to try again, his silence the request that Shizuo begrudgingly agreed to.

It seemed painful, more so than the clothing, the way Shizuo pulled on the lab coat. The raven watched impassively; he would do psychological evaluation on his own while Shinra did his—undoubtedly, the doctor would do so, a mixture of benefit for Shizuo and curiosity for himself. A thin stream of breath sounded and Shizuo's eyes closed as he felt the weight of the coat on his body, shoulders brought up as if he wanted to shrink himself away, disgusted.

"You'll be able to take it off soon. Let's go, Shizuo."

It seemed the sound of Izaya's voice comforted him, an odd realization, as Shizuo's eyes opened and he gave a nod. Izaya gave a series of commands—'back straight,' 'chin up,' 'don't look scared,' 'hands in your pockets if you don't know what to do with them,' 'walk straight,' 'not too fast'—all that Shizuo obeyed. After a few initial stumbling steps, Shizuo seemed to reclaim the grace of walking and Izaya gave a nod.

"Let's go."

A hand reached up and activated the Bluetooth under dark strands of hair. A ringing took place that soon ended with Shinra's loud 'IZAYA' in his ear, followed by the sound of a hit. Izaya gave a dry smirk as he listened to muffled whining and frantic typing; Shinra's anxiety either led him to be serious or delirious, and it seemed it had become the latter this time.

"What took you so long?!"

"Ah, sorry. That doesn't matter, does it? I'm with Shizuo now."

There was a brief pause, and Izaya could only imagine attributing it to the use of Shizuo's full name instead of his nickname. But it felt odd to call this shell the same name he called his rival, this human the name of a beast. Shizuo, it was. Unless he saw the one he knew again.

"Okay, good. How is he?"

"Responsive," he replied simply, adding, "and like a dazed child" after a moment.

"He's most probably drugged," Shinra answered and Izaya blinked in surprise.

Of course.

No matter how much trauma he had suffered, hatred would have flickered once he saw Izaya. That had been the idea of sending the raven in, after all; they wanted to garner the biggest reaction from Shizuo. Combined with his intelligence and quick thinking, that had made Izaya the ideal one to infiltrate.

"You know how to get out, right?"

"Walk me."

He fitted the Bluetooth to his ear and pulled strands of hair to cover it. The other hand raised and fingers crooked in Shizuo's direction, indicating him to follow. As expected, he did, and the door was pulled open. A sharp breath sounded in his ear and Izaya's 'shh' soothed it away as they began to walk, two pairs of dress shoes' heels clicking against clean floors, two slender men walking side by side.

Izaya had to admit, Shizuo was doing a good job. The quiet nature was more than suited for him and as long as they didn't pass anyone who he had come in contact with, Izaya figured they would be all right. Sneaking a glance, Shizuo looked disturbingly in place: quiet, calm, serious. There was a certain dead quality in his eyes that made him look empty, a facial expression the informant observed on video cameras so often.

"Take the first right, then the third left. A flight of stairs and the second left. Keep walking to the end of the hallway, then turn right. There's an exit and go down the stairs. We're in the black car waiting."

Shinra had given the instructions in full and then began to narrate them again as he, Izaya assumed, watched the two from video surveillance set up from the car. He was grateful for the isolation; earlier it had made him uneasy, but now it put him at rest. People meant two things: opportunities for them to realize intruders and for them to realize that Shizuo wasn't supposed to be up and walking about.

Every turn had Izaya's fingers rubbing against each other, counting 'one, two, three, four' to calm himself, set a rhythm that he was completely in control of. He could sense Shizuo's presence beside him and that was all he needed to know that the blond was still there, not having disappeared or stopped.

The informant couldn't help but wonder what would happen to Shizuo when they were back in the city. He thought little of what would happen when the researchers realized he was missing—what could they do, announce a subject of human testing was gone?—but had a plan, regardless. It was the problem as to how Shizuo would become accustomed again to habitual life.

He hadn't been here long, but the short duration was far too much for anyone. He was quiet, even if drugged, and timid. Shinra's, Izaya thought, would probably be the safest, somewhere where a medical professional could monitor him. As for if the doctor wanted to perform his own tests, Izaya didn't care.

Although he knew that Shinra wouldn't dare try any medical procedures on him right now and take advantage of this scarred vulnerability.

"I—"

"Sh."

Immediately, Izaya silenced Shizuo, before the full first syllable of his name could be pronounced. His reaction was sharp and offered no extra words; until they were out, until they were in the car, he didn't want to risk any conversation. Besides running, Izaya had no clear back up clan for if they were caught. A quick mouth may be able to buy him some time, but flick blades would be useless against stun guns and a lethal injection, things that he saw while studying.

Another corner turned, and Izaya knew that the end of this hallway lay the exit. Shinra and Celty would be just beyond the double set of doors beneath a red, flashing 'EXIT,' one Izaya had never been more grateful to see. Every footstep seemed heavier to take, every click of the heel louder. His blood pounded in his ears as the door neared.

"Kamiga-san!"

Izaya nearly flinched, had it not been for his self composure upon the name but ignored it; it wasn't uncommon for coworkers to talk to each other, he thought and breathed a sigh of relief. It's fine.

"Kamiga-san!"

Except, the raven thought, this person was persistent. His voice seemed strained, yet Izaya couldn't merely turn around. Curiosity, he thought, wasn't something that would be normal here. The door neared and Izaya could almost reached out and touch the door handle, Shizuo still by him and silent.

"Kamiga-san!"

He sounded angry now, and Izaya found himself jerked around. A hand was on his shoulders and pale fingers immediately curled around the knife in his pocket. From the corner of his eye, he saw the way Shizuo flinched and took a step back, but there was no reaction other than that—it seemed this wasn't one of the scientists that was assigned to him. Several blinks reminded Izaya of whose identity he had adopted and cursed himself for making such a stupid mistake.

"…Ah, sorry, I didn't hear."

He feigned an apologetic smile, reached a hand up to fix his glasses. "I, ah… have an ear infection. A sort of flu, I think."

Stupid, he cursed himself. He had forgotten the name of his name on the identification card, only using it to swipe himself in. The characters of Kamiga were familiar to him and he could now remember seeing them flash on the screen, but unless he had been called that, he'd never be able to say that was his name.

"You should have that checked out," the other said monotonously, and quickly changed the subject to asking "have you finished the report?"

"Hm? Of course. Just stepping out for a bit of air, hope it'll help my illness."

"I see. I'll go pick it up, then, shall I?"

Izaya nodded. "No problem."

He was regarded with another wary look but released, the man walking away. Turning around, Izaya murmured 'let's go' under his breath and pushed the door open. He had approximately forty seconds, he knew, from now until the man realized that there was no report and, probably, that he wasn't Kamiga, to get out of here.

The door opened and Izaya stepped out, Shizuo following suit, slipping out. Red eyes scanned the vicinity for the black car and found it a bit away, approaching them already. "Shizuo," he said and turned to look at him, "let's go. Shizuo."

He was staring at the sky and Izaya would have loved to give him the time to appreciate nature, but he was impatient. A hand reached out and curled around Shizuo's wrists, pulling him harshly towards the car. This was the last bit; the plan had gone smoothly, incredibly so, and while it was what Izaya had expected, he didn't want to jinx it. The raven didn't come with the intention of using the gun still hidden in his pants, and he hoped that he didn't have to. His heart was racing and he thought back to the man left in the bathroom, the fake report, the empty bed, and gave a smirk as he opened the car door and ushered Shizuo in first before sliding in himself, slamming the door shut. Tinted windows allowed him to relax as the deserted area, he had realized while looking around, made sure no one saw the two get in.

"Drive."

Celty began driving immediately, although not too quickly, to not draw attention to an otherwise well camouflaged black car. At any point that door would open, Izaya knew, and 'Kamiga' would be questioned thoroughly—once he woke up, anyway.

From the passenger seat, Shinra craned his body and was uncharacteristically serious as he reached a hand out to take Shizuo'. The blond recoiled at first but Izaya absentmindedly put his hand on the other's arm, calming him down. If Shinra found it odd, he certainly said nothing, and Izaya didn't tear his gaze away from the window to look.

"Pulse is fine… skin a bit cold… lost weight… eyes dull…"

As Shinra rambled observations under his breath, Izaya kept his hand on Shizuo's arm—it seemed to help, for whatever reason—and he could feel his heart begin to subside its rapid heartbeat.

The frenzy that would result from Shizuo missing would have to be contained. They wouldn't risk having this leak and even Shinra would be spared, particularly because of the knowledge that he lived with the infamous Headless Rider as well as, Izaya hoped, his supposed signing out. While they would undoubtedly be interested in Celty, Izaya also knew that aliens, the supernatural weren't quite their department, and they would be wary in how to capture her. Likewise, Shinra was under her protection—and the blackmail he had from everything he knew should guarantee his safety. If not, Izaya would have his ways, but he much rather preferred to keep it for something in the future.

Beside him. Shizuo was still as Shinra did his best for an impromptu check up, muttering things. Once Celty had left the facility and driven a good few miles away, definitely out of eyesight, her foot pressed down on the gas pedal more and the engine of the car hummed to life almost angrily, their speed seeming to almost double.

'Kamiga' would be discovered, tied up and somewhat nude in the bathroom. Wires would be a disarray in Shizuo's room, a pair of shoes and a lab coat would be missing. The identification card Izaya carried would be deactivated almost immediately. That report may or may not be finished. An empty bed would have people whispering and they would either hope Shizuo would stay quiet or come after him.

If they do, I'll be there this time.

Fingers tightened around Shizuo's arm, yet there wasn't anger in Izaya's face. He was smirking, instead, an arrogant sneer on thin lips as his free hand came up to remove his glasses.

No one messes with my Shizu-chan.


author's notes: this was hard to write because I felt like Izaya and Shizuo were so awfully out of character, especially the latter. but Izaya will return to, mostly, his character next chapter. and Shizuo slowly will become Shizuo again, I do hope.

once again, the idea for this was given to me by a lovely anonymous from Tumblr, and I thank you for allowing me to write this. I hope to do your idea justice and I very much hope you will enjoy reading it. the same sentiments go to anyone reading this; thank you and comments or critiques would always be appreciated!