disclaimer: don't own.

chapter two: "he's yours, izaya."

When he came to, it was cold and leather restraints kept his body down.

He had tried to sit up, but Shizuo found his limbs were only capable of lifting a few centimeters from the cool, metal table he was on. His head was free to move and a quick scan in the seemingly vacant room, filled only with what seemed to be primitive supplies, had his heartbeat quickening and a scowl on lips devoid of their usual cigarette. Whatever these restraints were made of, he cursed, were strong. That, or something had happened to his strength, rendering him incapable of freeing himself.

A flurry of thoughts whirl-winded through his mind, yet none of them slowed down enough for him to untangle them. But it was evident that anxiety and anger were blended together, knotted so finely he wasn't sure if he even wanted to separate them. Who, what, how, when, why were questions that dominated is thought as he struggled, yet to no avail. Hot tempered as he was, Shizuo was also logical and quickly realized there was no point in struggling against something that was impossible.

Relaxing, Shizuo's eyes closed and he tried to calm his breathing as he recalled the events that had transpired earlier that day. He had been let off from work early that day and was interrupted on his way home. They hadn't been people he couldn't handle, even in a group of four, but Shizuo found a sharp, concentrated pain in his neck that left him feeling dizzy. The bag he had been holding of that night's dinner, consisting of ramen and a few strawberry milks, was dropped and the last thing Shizuo remembered was his cheek pressing to cold, rough concrete, low murmurs and the feeling of hands on his arms to pull him up.

Struggling again, it was no use, and the blond had to succumb to the restraints. He wasn't sure how much time had passed until the metal clang of a door opening caught his attention, it could have been hours or days, but he had no choice but to lay there until he was approached. Men, he wasn't sure if they were the same ones from before, appeared, their faces looming in his vision. They wore surgical masks and scrubs, hair hidden by caps and ominous masks concealing most of their faces. Any fear that welled in his body was quelled immediately and Shizuo glared at them, trying to keep himself composed. If they had him here, then there was no doubt in Shizuo's mind that they knew who he was and he wasn't going to let that image of him slip in front of them.

"Who the hell are you? What the fuck do you want?"

"Heiwajima Shizuo," one of them spoke in a low, formal tone. "The strongest man in Ikebukuro… unprecedented strength. We're interested in you."

"I don't fuckin' care. Let me go right now or I'll kill-!"

"Your seemingly inhuman tolerance for a human body is of great use to us," he continued. Turning to the side, a murmur later had a syringe in his hand and Shizuo's eyes widened at that, remembering what he assumed to have been a tranquilizer from earlier.

"O-Oi… what're…?"

"You will help us," cut off again, the man approached Shizuo, "better society, Heiwajima-san."

"W-wait… what the-?!"

His attempts at remaining cool and collected faltered once he saw the syringe, the ominous looking liquid inside it. Pain was nothing; he could deal with them. It was the idea of being tested on—he figured that out quickly—and having something unknown injected into his body that scared Ikebukuro's strongest. It could have been anything from a virus to a remedy, and the unknown aspect was what was terrifying to him. He was strong, but he couldn't do anything that attacked his immune system. For all he knew, these people could be trying to see what it took to kill him.

And in that moment, Shinra seemed like a good doctor.

Shizuo could still remember the first injection. A twinge in his arm was disregarded in favor of the wooziness that followed quickly. His skin felt alight with fire and mind spun, eyes couldn't focus and his skin felt unimaginably hot the longer he laid there, unable to move. Lips were parted in an attempt to ask what it was, but he couldn't; his voice failed him and so did his strength as it seeped out of his body gradually.

It was only a few days later that he received the answers he sought, yet he hadn't been in any condition to ask. Eyes already lost luster and Shizuo was freed from restraints, but there was no effort to escape. Blankly, he stared at the ceiling; food was hardly touched and he numbly realized that one of the IVs hooked up to him was for nutrition. Doctors, or he thought that was who they were, came in and out, nurses the ones to take care of him, men in lab coats the ones that brought syringes and, naturally, the ones he shied away from.

The days lost rhythm to Shizuo and he began to separate them only with consciousness and sleep, tests and blackness. It wasn't like him to give up this readily, but a combination of drugs that deteriorated his body and the mentality had him succumbing, allowing them to do as they wished to him. He could hear chatter around him but made no effort to figure out what they were saying. He did what he was told and laid still, body jerking only with injection or a test.

It was the same man that spoke to him first that sat down one day after another series of tests.

"Too much money is spent on human testing for drugs, because these drugs cannot overlap due to a normal tolerance level. You, Heiwajima-san, however, are capable of being administered several of these drugs at once. Naturally, there are limits, yet your body is amazing. It is able to tolerate negative consequences far better than others and recovery time is much shorter. You could be the future, Heiwajima-san, and the reason for a multitude of drugs that are released to the market, helping society. Rest assured, all of these have been tested on animals extensively; you are not the first."

Shizuo had offered no response and words that were meant to console hardly did so. As he was told, all he remembered was days and days of needles and pills, being told to open, drink, and swallow. Nausea, headaches, chills, fevers, hallucinations, vomiting all plagued him, among other side effects that his delirious mind was incapable of recalling. And yet, he couldn't do anything; nurses quelled some of the side effects, but the moment they stopped, he was given something else.

The man had smiled and put a hand on his chest, a finger running down the middle.

"While you're here… this body of yours is of great fascination to us researchers…"

Tests. Drugs. Endurance. Scalpels. Blood. Pain. Screams.

Shizuo had been subjected to them for a month, a painful month in which he began to lose himself. He could feel it; it was as if every time a drug was injected into his body, a bit of him was taken out, to maintain the balance of matter that composed him. His pain tolerance began to give way after days and days of abuse; they eventually allowed anesthesia (having wanted to preserve it, they assumed he didn't need it) and the way they handled scalpels weren't nearly as graceful as Shinra. He remembered struggling so hard against restraints during conscious surgeries when they needed to "fix" something, when a drug had a more severe effect than they had predicted.

He could feel himself being cut open and it was a miracle the pain didn't have his entire body shut down.

Even with the anesthesia, sometimes the dosages were far too low and while the pain wasn't too great, he could feel hands in his body, the way the surgical instruments almost tickled him. He began to lose sense of himself, abide dumbly by whatever he was told to do. Run for three hours, fine. Take this pill, fine. Have his arm cut open, fine. Blood drawn, fine. Look into a microscope, fine. Look into a bright light for several seconds, fine.

It was as if he became a corpse, and no one there cared to stop him.

It was like that for days on end and he lost track. Every day was waking up, subjected to something, an attempt to be fed, and then sleep. Every day, a routine like that, no longer a will to fight, to escape, to survive. The first few days he still had enough willpower and logic to want to leave. If the restraints were off, he would try to leave, but an alarm always had someone coming to check on him or his legs didn't work—effect of something, but he didn't know what. He vaguely remembered being given something and then calling Kasuka, but he hardly remembered what he said. Everything was a hazy blur and he no longer had the will to separate them. Shizuo never admitted it, but a part of him accepted that he would die there.

Fitting, he thought, for his strength to be the reason for his downfall. They could do whatever they wanted with him; he had broken and it was almost embarrassing how easily the fortissimo of Ikebukuro fell. His physical strength, contrary to popular belief, didn't equate to his mentality; years of fear and disgust at himself left him with a fractured mind and weak psyche, if anything.

He thought he was going to die every time he went to sleep. They gave him drugs nearly every night; two, rather. One was to put him to sleep, ensure he would rest, and the other was something experimental and Shizuo never bothered to listen to what he was being given—if they had the decency to tell him. It never occurred to him to think about morality; he had been drained, cracked, and waiting to die. He hoped it would be painless, that, finally, the drugs would combine in a lethal fashion and he would pass out before his body gave in.

It was pathetic how easily he gave in, but at the same time, he felt that a part of this was deserved. He had hurt so many people and it was time for him to be hurt in return. The mentality made it all too easy for guilt to overtake logic; he deserved this, he thought, every bit of it and he would accept the pain he had caused others.

When his eyes opened to see someone hovering over him and say that he was there to help him escape, Shizuo's first reaction was that it was another test. It was a face that seemed familiar, yet Shizuo saw the lab coat first and natural instinct kicked in. He had been allowed to sleep extra long that day and so his hazy consciousness had the fight-or-flight response kicking in. Shizuo had grown fearful of them, of anyone in that white coat; this one, a small voice in the back of his mind said, was to test his mentality; nothing physical, purely mental, and it was terrifying. But when he put their hands together and offered such a kind look, he found himself relaxing. Even with the drug administered from before he slept, his conscience stirred and guilt began clearing to let the will to live shine through, tap at the surface of the ice.

"Izaya. Orihara Izaya."

The name had his breath hitching and it took a while for pieces to fall together in Shizuo's mind, but he eventually placed it. Izaya. Orihara Izaya, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro's infamous informant, his rival. Orihara Izaya.

Orihara Izaya had come to save him.

Part of it was the drug but the other part was pure and simple gratitude. Shizuo recognized that it was him, remembered their relationship, but those were facts and it meant nothing than the idea of escape. He found himself blindly trusting Izaya, trusting the way their hands touched, the way Izaya was calm and quiet, had nothing menacing lingering in his vermilion eyes. Facts had him remembering that he hated who this man was, but he didn't even wonder why Izaya had come to help him. He was just grateful for someone he knew, yet that gratitude was quiet. He was too tired to say anything, do anything, except listen and trust; he figured he had nothing to lose anymore.

The entire time, Shizuo was quiet. He didn't have the energy to speak or process; it was just easy, he found, to trust Izaya and follow his lead. He figured he had so little else to lose that falling into the raven and doing what he said without a second thought was better than nothing. Walking was something that he soon remembered how to do, although his legs felt weak. Beside the informant, even seeing the other researchers wasn't as intimidating. And when he felt Izaya's hand on his arm again in the car, he could feel himself let out a sigh and relaxing. Eyes slowly closed as he leaned back against the seat and, for the first time in a month, sleep wasn't drug induced and Shizuo fell slowly into unconsciousness without the dizzy feeling.

When he woke up, he was in Shinra's apartment.

"Shizuo! You're awake!"

The first thing the blond saw upon consciousness was a hand reaching towards him, and he immediately jerked away. Brown eyes were wide as he sat up and pressed his back to the headboard of the bed, trying to put as much distance as possible between himself and the man he could recognize as Kishitani Shinra. Distantly, he had memories of being somewhat close with him, yet those memories were only on the surface and Shizuo couldn't bring himself to trust that touch. His body was trembling and feet kicked at the sheets as hands clawed at the pillow.

"Sh-Shizuo! Calm down! It's me, Shinra! Shizuo…!"


A second voice interrupted Shinra's and it was quieter, yet Shizuo picked up on it immediately. He looked to the door and saw Izaya leaning against the door frame, arms crossed and expression nonchalant. His body seemed to relax immediately and allowed Shinra to approach him upon seeing a nod given to him.

He knew who Orihara Izaya was and he knew who Kishitani Shinra was. And he knew that he was supposed to trust Kishitani Shinra over Orihara Izaya, yet his initial reaction was to trust the latter over the former. His past memories swam in his mind but they didn't mean anything to him. Shizuo could think back to them but nothing elicited a reaction. His past relationships were mere facts and none had an emotional value anymore. This was his first time waking up without being administered a drug, yet hands were on his body again and he closed his eyes, tried to ignore it.

The way Shinra touched him, though, was kinder. There was nothing cold, no medical instruments that would be used to prod at him, only bandages and warm fingers, checking his body. When eyes opened, he saw that Izaya was still watching him and there was an expression that he couldn't identify. It wasn't amusement, it wasn't anger, it wasn't interest.

It took him a few moments, but it was disgust.

Izaya looked disgusted at him, like he was scum. His eyes were narrowed and lips curled down into a frown, he looked at Shizuo like he was a vile animal and couldn't bear to be in his presence. But when the raven realized he was being looked at, his expression cleared to one of nonchalance and walked over.

"Shizuo," he said quietly. "Do you know who I am?"

He gave a nod.

"Do you know who he is?"

Izaya was referring to Shinra and, again, Shizuo gave a nod.

"Can you talk?"

His mouth opened but no speech came out and he quickly realized it was because he had nothing to say. Shizuo closed his mouth and shook his head, wanting to give the impression that he couldn't speak instead of being forced to. Izaya gave a nod and turned to Shinra, watching as he carefully inspected the blond. In the background, a door closed and hazel eyes looked up to see a headless figure walk in.

Celty, he thought immediately, Celty Sturluson.

He heard the sound of something being set down and the woman soon appeared next to Izaya, wisps of black smoke curling from her neck. Her fingers were wrapped around her PDA that she held to her chest and it seemed she was looking at him, stilling before fingers flew over the device. Izaya glanced over nonchalantly and gave a shake of his head; Shizuo had no idea what she asked but presumed it was about him, as her body faced in his direction again.


The informant spoke to the doctor, head leaning against the door frame. Celty was holding the PDA to her chest again and Shizuo felt that she was looking at him. The curls of the shadows from her neck were indecipherable to the man on the bed; he wasn't Shinra, after all.

"Ask him how he is."

Shizuo didn't wonder why he wasn't asked directly; just because he couldn't feel that hatred didn't mean Izaya didn't. He could see it in the way Izaya looked at him; traces of disgust laced with hatred, and a new sort of interest flickered in his eyes. As instructed, Shinra relayed the message, but Shizuo gave no answer. Again, Shinra asked. And, again, Shizuo didn't answer.

"Izaya, outside?"

Standing from his bedside, Shinra motioned to Izaya and the two took their leave. Celty moved to the side to let them through the door and quietly closed it behind them, fingers wrapped around the door knob for a lingering moment before she walked over to Shizuo. Her foot steps were quiet, reminding him of the way Izaya had walked, and he didn't look at her. Peripheral vision watched her sit down next to him and hesitate before typing something.

Is it easier to talk this way?

Celty Sturluson, he remembered, was one of his closest friends. She always had this serene presence around him that he appreciated; for someone with a short temper, someone with infinite patience was the best contrast to him and he appreciated it. He read the message on the screen and felt a certain hollowness in his chest; how many times had he read this screen, he thought, and only too many had some sort of an emotion been elicited. But at this moment, he felt nothing, and that ached in him.

A nod was given and Celty offered him her PDA, Shizuo understanding that to mean that the woman wanted some kind of communication that went beyond movements of the head. The way he took the PDA was slow and arm movements stiff and almost broken seeming, like a doll whose limbs no longer worked properly. It didn't hurt, but he typed slowly and it took him a while.


She couldn't smile, but when he looked at her, the smoke seemed kinder.




Shinra's eyes narrowed at his blunt answer and the informant didn't apologize, but didn't offer another retort. Seated at the couches and with coffee, Izaya found himself glancing at the bedroom door and feeling nothing but disgust. That wasn't Heiwajima Shizuo, he wanted to say, that empty shell was a pathetic excuse of a man. Shizuo had interested him; he had always been the exception because he was more than a husk. There was a person there and there was substance, so different from everyone else.

Now a shell, Izaya had grown tired of him and wanted to dispose of him like a broken toy.

"I think…" Shinra started slowly, "that he remembers anything. But the lingering effects of what he's gone through have rendered a sort of disconnect from his feelings. You can tell he knows who we are, he just doesn't feel."

An eyebrow arched. "So he doesn't hate me?"

"I'm sure he knows he does. He just doesn't feel it."

"I see."

Izaya took another sip of his drink with furrowed brows, a show of emotion he allowed himself to indulge in only around the company of Kishitani Shinra. The coffee was bitter on his tongue, just the way he liked it, although the taste was hardly registered. Izaya had thought Shizuo's behavior odd and came to the same conclusion himself, yet it was a doctor's opinion that solidified it in his mind.

He couldn't bear to look at Shizuo, at the shell that was once his rival. If Shinra was right, if Shizuo retained all his memories but had lost his emotional connection, then Izaya couldn't help but feel bored with him. A disconnected human was nothing to him; Heiwajima Shizuo was as good as dead to Orihara Izaya.

But at the same time, he was interested. What had he gone through to leave such an impact on him, sever his ability to feel, render him a marionette with cut strings? While Izaya had seen scars, had assumed drugs, Shinra had told him he would conduct a more thorough investigation later and report anything that had happened. Izaya didn't want to care—Shizuo was no longer Shizuo—but he did. Just how did the mentality of the strongest man in Ikebukuro break, and how badly did it shatter?

He had always wanted to see Shizuo like this, Izaya thought. He was just angry that he hadn't been the one to break him.


Vermilion eyes raised to look at Shinra, noting a sudden discomfort. "Out with it, Shinra."

"I think Shizuo's attached himself to you."

Izaya almost spit out his coffee.

"It's just an idea," Shinra added quickly, putting his hands up. As he watched Izaya bring a hand up to his mouth and cough, hitting his chest, the brunet continued to speak. "You were the one who got him out of there, after all. You were the first person he's probably felt like he's able to trust in a while. And in the car, and just now, you're the only one he really responds to. It's because of that disconnect; he knows he hates you, but he doesn't feel it."

"If he's emotionally incapacitated," Izaya said dryly, "then he shouldn't be able to feel attached to anyone."

"True. But I think that it's less of an emotional thing and more of a desire to be protected."

"He wants me to be his protector?"

The idea almost had Izaya laughing, a raucous laugh that would have seemed odd to come out of lips so smooth. Izaya's mouth curled into a maniacal sort of grin at the idea. "Shizuo wants me to protect him? He's really lost it then."

Using the Heiwajima's proper name came easily to Izaya; it was almost startling how quickly he was able to adjust how he addressed him. But, as he had felt in the car, when he looked at the man, it wasn't Shizu-chan anymore. Shizu-chan wasn't Shizu-chan if he had no emotional connections and was nothing more than a storage of memories and facts. Too bad, Izaya found him thinking only too often, you were actually holding my interest…

Shizuo had been fallen asleep when they arrived at Shinra's apartment, figuring it was the most convenient (in terms of treating him) and better than Shizuo's apartment. Izaya had lingered by the door and nearly left before curls of shadows wrapped around his limbs and Celty restrained him. As he floated mid air for several moments, he impassively read Celty's words, meant to guilt trip him.

'Aren't you going to stay?'

"I see no reason to."

'Shizuo's going to want to see you when he wakes.'

"And how do you know that?"

She hesitated before answering.

'I just do.'

His back hurt from sleeping on the couch that night, a mixture of the less than desirable sleeping arrangements and from helping Shinra to support Shizuo up the stairs and into the guest bedroom. The three of them had sat in the kitchen for a long while, the two who ate not caring that lunch nor dinner have been served all the day, and cradled hot mugs of coffee instead. Celty's fingers remained over her PDA, encasing the device quietly, ready to type a response to anything either of them may say. But Shinra was quiet and his lips moved, yet those words—medical phrases, Izaya could read—were for himself. And Izaya had nothing to say.

Shinra and Celty retired to their rooms, leaving Izaya on the couch in the living room. He could see a crack open to the guest bedroom and knew that Shizuo was there. But he didn't go and check on him; he had no desire to do so, see, again, what disgusted him so immensely. Closing his eyes, he turned on his side and attempted to sleep, but he laid awake for hours.

What did they do to you? he found himself wondering. While he would never bring himself to ask, he wondered if observation would tell him of what Shizuo had underwent. Most of the experiments were drugs, Shinra had said, but hesitated after saying that. Curious, Izaya remembered taking a step closer and seeing what had silenced him.

They weren't prominent—and Shinra said they would be permanent but not glaringly so—but scars lined his body, some red, some pink, some already white. But the color wasn't of importance; it was that he had been cut into that had Izaya's fists clenching.

The bastards cut into my Shizu-chan.

Shinra added he wouldn't know for what reason until he could ask Shizuo when he woke, but considering he was still alive, it most likely wasn't anything harmful. But the words hardly registered in Izaya's mind; anger had infiltrated him and the doctor sensed it, asking Celty to direct Izaya out of the room.

Physical or mental scarring, he had always thought, which was worse? He wondered what Shizuo's answer would be, having undergone traumatic events that would have induced both. A sick smirk had found its place on the Orihara's lips at the thought of that; it seemed that Shizuo could still captivate his attention.

I'm not sick of you yet, it seems.

"I don't think…" Shinra started but paused, reaching a hand up to fix his glasses. "It's not that implausible for Shizuo to see you as his savior, Izaya. After an event like that… the first friendly face he saw was yours…"


Grey eyes looked up and Izaya glared at the soft smile Shinra wore.

"How else were you acting to him in the car?"

Izaya stiffened at the innocently posed question, but his expression fell to an annoyed one as he growled at Shinra. Of course he would bring that up, the informant thought, he had been waiting for it. The feeling of his fingers on Shizuo's arm had felt disgusting, direct skin-to-skin contact raising goose bumps on Izaya's own pallor. But he had been preoccupied by that time, mind elsewhere.

It had been odd to be the one physical with Shizuo instead of the other way around; usually, it was the blond that tried to grab him, but in that one moment of what Izaya supposed was kindness, he found himself reaching out for the bodyguard, thinking that maybe human contact, trusted human contact, would help him.

"It was to keep him calm," Izaya answered and took a sip of his coffee. "Did you want him to disrupt Celty's driving?"

"But that made him trust you," Shinra countered and Izaya's scowl darkened. "After something like that, any human is going to cling to anything that makes them feel better. You may not have been friendly, but you were the first person he saw in a long time that didn't have negative intentions. And in a time like that, when emotions are compromised, new ones are formed from stemming logic. He sees you as a savior, you know. He's only going to feel safe with you around."

Shinra fell silent as he raised his mug to take another sip and Izaya didn't offer any biting words. He gave a 'tch' and looked away as an arm draped over the back of the couch. The slender man leaned back and crossed his legs; one mug was balanced on a bony knee precariously, thin fingers curled around the handle. The doctor's words made sense; as the one who knew more about human psychology between them, Izaya accepted that basic knowledge. The only thing that hindered him from accepting it fully was his own personal feelings; bias, he always thought, should be left out of serious situations. And he had managed to, for a while. But his limit had been used up and wanted to go back to his life without Heiwajima Shizuo.

"So," Shinra continued, "I think Shizuo should stay with you."

Izaya had been taking a sip of coffee that was very promptly spit out again.

"What are-?!"

"It's for both of your benefits!" Shinra cut him off. "Shizuo's with someone he trusts until he recovers fully and you get to observe him! But don't do anything weird to him!"

"Have him stay with Kasuka. Or you."

"But we're not you!"

"Obviously," Izaya answered, unable to help the bitter sarcasm that dripped in his words. "I'm not living with him."

"But Shizuo needs you!"

"I don't care."


Ignoring Shinra, Izaya stood up and headed towards the kitchen. The coffee had grown cold, he thought, and watched it pour down the sink. Shifting was heard and he knew Shinra had turned around on the couch, peripheral vision seeing hands curl around the back of the couch.

"He needs something he can rely on! Someone he trusts! You're the only one he does, so it can only be you! And he'll be fine soon. It's not like it'll be permanent."

Izaya placed the emptied mug on the counter. "I don't want to."

His kindness extended only to rescuing Shizuo from that testing facility. Once they were out of there, once they returned to Ikebukuro, Izaya wanted nothing else to do with someone who was so horribly boring and so awfully average. Spindly fingers let go of the handle of the mug, but Izaya didn't leave the kitchen.

From across the space, he heard Shinra give an exaggerated sigh and extend the silence for a few more moments. "Then… what if you don't look at this as a favor for him but, rather, a favor for yourself?"

Dark eyes cast a gaze upon him. "Impossible."

Shinra shook his head. "You get to observe him. Don't you like it when people are at their most miserable? And it's Shizuo; you know he's human, Izaya, no matter what you say. He's human and he's fallen apart. And you have the capability to put him back together. You're probably not going to because you're an asshole, but just… don't let him shatter anymore."

The doctor's words made sense, Izaya thought as he turned around. Elbows rested on the counter and a single finger traced the rim of the mug, wishing it were a wine glass so there would be a high pitched noise to fill the silence. "I don't want to."

Shinra whined. "Why not?"

I don't want him to get better.

The confession he made to himself had Izaya's brow furrowing and free hand clenching, nails biting into the flesh of his hand. Heiwajima Shizuo would no longer be a nuisance. The brute had been rendered nearly completely useless; even though he retained his strength, he was clearly in no position to utilize it. Time and time again, Izaya had found himself having to change his plans or alter them because of Shizuo, who had an uncanny ability to catch up with Izaya, no matter how many steps ahead he was.

Izaya never let anyone know, but he had been forced to go to Shinra's too many times on account for an injury due to Shizuo. His pain tolerance was high enough for him to walk on a sprained ankle for a bit before having to limp and favor the other leg, not wanting Shizuo to have the satisfaction of knowing that Izaya injured himself during one of their fights, that Shizuo wasn't the only one to get hurt.

Shizuo was an even opponent for Izaya and he despised it.

Izaya didn't want an equal; he wanted humans and he wanted them to love him, fear him, respect him. The existence of Shizuo ruined everything and made his plans far more difficult than they had to be. His unpredictability had Izaya scowling, hating that there was one person he wouldn't be able to read and manipulate so easily.

And he makes me feel ashamed.

Shame for what, he found himself wondering, but a clear answer never came; the feeling burned at him and he felt he had been branded by Heiwajima Shizuo. Maybe he was so pure that Izaya felt tainted in a sickening way, distorted and twisted, disgusting and monstrous, more so than Shizuo himself. That shame lingered whenever he thought about him and had Izaya wanting to spit in anger; he had no right to make him feel that way, a true monster had no right to make a human feel ashamed.

As much of a monster as Shizuo was, Izaya still watched the way people flocked to him. They liked him, even though he was a monster, and Izaya found himself alone, even though he was human. He hated that and couldn't comprehend it; Shizuo's company bothered him more than his own loneliness, and just watching the blond make friends and relationships had Izaya's fists clenching and brow furrowing.

Why? You're a monster… why does no one see that?

He couldn't understand Shizuo and Izaya loathed it.

I hate him.

Dark eyes flickered to to the couch that Shinra was been occupying as Izaya glanced over his shoulder. Shizuo was rendered out of commission, so to speak, and nothing more than an empty shell. He was virtually no threat to his plans in this state, and perhaps people would leave him, once realizing that nothing could be done. Granted, he would have people still, but far fewer. He'd be alone, just as monsters should be.

A hand reached up to rub a strand of black hair between his thumb and index finger, still frowning. Relief should have sated him; Izaya thought he should be much happier and relieved now that Shizuo wouldn't hinder his plans anymore. And yet, a discomfort lodged itself in the cavity of his chest, between his bones, and hindered the way he breathed, his heart beat. It was inexplicable and he tried to discern what it was, dissect it, but to no avail; the answer eluded him until he heard Shinra whine again.

I wasn't the one that defeated him.

The realization had Izaya's breath stilling and blood running cold as chills prickled his expression. All this time he had only been considering the aftermath and never thought about the victory itself. He had always been Shizuo's opponent; he was the only one evenly matched. Shizuo was his; no one else was allowed to lay a finger upon him.

Shizuo, in this state, was useless. He was nothing but a shadow of who he had been, not nearly matching any standards to be Izaya's opponent; he was no longer the one person that could stop him. But Izaya wasn't the one that defeated him; someone had interfered in their match and while the loser was Shizuo, the victor wasn't Izaya.

And that angered him.

A glare crossed Izaya's features as he straightened up, hand shifting and causing the mug to nearly topple over, ignoring Shinra's startled questions. Long legs carried him the distance to Shizuo's room and a hand reached out to throw the door open, ignore the loud bang of it hitting the wall. Shizuo jumped but fear quickly receded from his expression upon seeing it was Izaya, and only surprise remained. His mouth opened, probably to ask his name, but nothing came out, and Izaya found himself growing angry again.

I'm not why you can't talk.

I'm not why you're broken.

I want to be the reason why.

He was selfish with all his humans and, though he said otherwise, Shizuo was human; the fact that he was so affected and had such a human response was proof of that. He may not have been the reason Shizuo was as he was, but Izaya did take credit for luring the monstrous side of him out, thinking he was the only one capable of pushing Shizuo to that point. In a sense, he thought that he was the one that created the monster he wanted everyone to know about.

He took a breath before walking to Shizuo's bedside and looked down at him. Izaya's glare was returned with a gaze—why wasn't he scared?, the raven though, why was there no fear in those eyes?—and clenched his fists.

"Do you trust me?"

Shizuo nodded.


He opened his mouth but nothing came out again, and looked away. Izaya gave a sigh and closed his eyes; a sigh moved his chest and had his shoulders relaxing, hands unclenching.

"…It's fine. I get it."

Izaya looked around and pulled a chair up to sit down in. Shinra and Celty watched from the door, but made no attempts to move closer as Izaya looked to Shizuo.

"Give me your hand."

His hand was held out and Izaya could see Shinra raise an eyebrow in surprise. Holding Shizuo's hand was never something Izaya had an interest in, but he had an ulterior motive. As he watched the blond's hand slowly come up and rest in his, Izaya allowed a small smile that was easily misinterpreted for relief tug upon his lips.

"So you do trust me…"

Unquestioningly doing what was told of him, not hesitating were signs of trust and Izaya had confirmed that Shizuo did put his confidence in him. Giving a nod, Izaya withdrew his hand and stood, back of his knees pushing the chair away as he left Shizuo's room. Celty stayed in while Shinra followed him out, watching as Izaya picked up his mug in the kitchen to refill it with coffee on another counter.

"…Izaya, what are…"

"I'll do it," he interrupted him as he replaced the coffee pot, cradling his second mug of coffee with both hands.

"Er… I'm having second thoughts…"

"I'm the only one who can. He doesn't trust anyone else."

Izaya turned around and leaned against the edge of the counter, giving a smirk as he took a sip of the scorching drink. Worry clearly creased Shinra's brows as he adjusted black frames and looked at him. It made sense for him to worry, Izaya thought, but he had no ill intentions—not in helping Shizuo to recover, anyway.

"If you're going to take advantage of him…"

"Only in the sense of helping him at the moment, Shinra," Izaya drawled. A long sip had been taken and he put the mug on the counter; fingers curled over the edge of the counter as the heels of his hand pressed to the surface. Shoulders came up as his body relaxed slightly and an ankle crossed over the other. The way Izaya's head tilted allowed strands of black hair to tickle his neck as he gazed at Shinra.

He hadn't been the one to destroy Shizuo, and that was nearly the same as Izaya losing. The game he and Shizuo played of killing each other was not to be interfered by anyone else. And Shizuo hadn't been dead—Izaya would admit he was glad for that—which meant he could still win. But the playing grounds had to be even; Izaya's pride wouldn't accept a victory from an already bruised opponent.

Shizuo had to get better for Izaya to prove he was superior. Shizuo had to be at his full strength, at his full health, both mental and physical, before Izaya could completely obliterate him. Heiwajima Shizuo was only allowed to die by Orihara Izaya's hands and, at the moment, that wouldn't be fair. He wanted to see all the anger and hatred laced in Shizuo's expression before he killed him; he didn't want to see fear and betrayal flicker in eyes that used to hold hatred in such a beautiful light.

"He'll stay with me in Shinjuku until he's ready to stay here. Then I'll move in with him. It should only be a few months."


"You can check up as often as you'd like, Shinra."

"It's not that," the doctor murmured as he brought a hand up to rub at his temples. "…I don't know what you're planning, but…"

"Do you have so little faith in me, Shinra?" Izaya asked playfully.

Shinra stared at him. "Yes."

A hand waved as the mug was set down after a second sip. "Saa… I promise, Shinra, nothing bad. I'll help nurse Shizu-chan back to health as you'd like, hmm? After that, whatever I do to him will depend on his reflexes…"

Izaya's expression darkened as an almost sinister scowl etched upon his lips. "Like you said, I could use this opportunity to… ah, observe him in a way I never could…"

Shinra was quiet for several moments as he looked at Izaya, and the informant waited patiently, already knowing the doctor's answer. While 'friends' would be a term too friendly for the three of them (from Shinra's point of view), the brunet was more than aware that Izaya was right; the only one that could help Shizuo was him and there was no getting around it. Whether or not Izaya would stay true to his word was a small issue compared to the fact that if Izaya wasn't there, Shizuo would remain enclosed in terror.

He looked up tiredly and Izaya's smirk widened.

"Fine. He's yours, Izaya."

author's notes: it's summer. so hopefully updates will come sooner than once a month, haha… thank you for reading, reviews are much appreciated!