It had been an entire year since Masaomi and Shizuo had finally admitted their love for each other. Though it was a very strange day, they both recalled it every night in their dreams and fell in love with each other all over again. They made love that night for the very first time. Obviously, they had had sex plenty of times before, but that night was the first time they'd actually made love. It was the best thing Masaomi had ever experienced in his entire life. The feel of his lovers' hands gently, yet dominantly, running over his naked body and God the way it felt to be penetrated by him in a slow and sensual way; it gave the boy shivers just to think about it.

It was a year ago exactly today, the young blond recalled as he stared at the calendar beside his bed. He rolled over to find the empty sheets beside him. Figuring Shizuo had already gone to work, he stood and dizzily staggered to the bathroom. When he saw his reflection in the small mirror above the sink, it was like staring at a stranger and he sighed drastically. This was just depressing. Looking deep into his own amber eyes, he wondered for a moment if he was the only person he could read the pain in within the blankness. Maybe it was something that was very well hidden from the rest of the world. Maybe to everyone else, his eyes looked just as blank and dead as they had in his darkest days, and the dark circles all around them made them all the more ugly and disgusting. Also, the boy was white as paper and he caught himself questioning how Shizuo could possibly be in love with something so revolting. He rolled his eyes at himself, picking up his toothbrush and pasting a long line of minty toothpaste across it before shoving it lazily into his mouth.

While he brushed his teeth, he thought about the one day he and Shizuo had argued. It was a very petty thing to argue about, he thought, simply that the older man thought he should go back to school. Kida found this idea ridiculous; he was nineteen years old after all. So instead, in order to please his lover, the boy got a job in a run-down coffee shop in East Ikebukuro. It wasn't much, but it was enough to help him to afford to live without much help from Shizuo, and enough to make the older blond happy with his boyfriend. It sucked working there, Kida thought, but as long as it kept Shizuo happy he wasn't planning on quitting any time soon, even if the boss was difficult to work with. The boss was a middle aged man with a face full or wrinkles and dark gray hair; the side effects of his teenage years being filled with drug abuse, Masaomi figured. It was people like his boss that made him so glad he never got into drugs, despite being tempted several times, seeing it as a way out of his troubles with the man who could not be named. Though he wasn't sure how he could look much less appealing as he already did, it was probable that drug abuse would have somehow made that happen. The boss would always stare at Kida and his co-worker Rio with that same predatory glint in his eyes that the man who could not be named always had. This made Masaomi unbelievably uncomfortable in his working hours.

He was overwhelmed when he arrived at work and Rio Kamichika informed him his boss was absent from work. The young girls' eyes were almost as lifeless as Kida's himself, and he often wondered what had happened to her, but was never rude enough to pry. Kida took the orders today while his brunette co-worker prepared and served the drinks. There were never many customers at a time so this system worked just fine. The two of them had to wear the compulsory uniform of a green apron and a black cap, which was fair enough but quite unappealing. Not that Masaomi cared much; he would have looked ugly with or without the uniform. Drearily, he took the orders of the two regulars (a business man on his way to work and a single mother just on her way home from the school run) and Rio speedily whipped up their drinks. A new person walked in, signaled by the bell above the door, but it didn't interest Kida enough to make him look up from his notepad that he jotted down orders on.

"One regular tea with a biscuit," a familiar voice chimed. "Made with extra love." At that comment, Kida's head shot up to see the disgusting smirk that he feared so much on the man before him. The boy had managed so well to avoid this man who could not be named for so long. "Now what are you doing working in a run-down place like this?" Izaya sang mockingly.

"I'm sorry," he caught himself apologizing to this man. Old habits die hard. Quickly, he shook his head and shot an angry glare at his worst nightmare. "Get out. Right now. You're not welcome."

"I'm not welcome? You don't own this place Kida; you can't tell me what to do." And the smirk that followed almost made Kida fall to the floor and cradle himself in a corner. Masaomi looked around desperately for his boss, before remembering he was absent and sighing heavily. There was a long pause before he spoke.

"So that's a regular tea?" Izaya laughed at his feeble attempt to divert the conversation.

"Why am I so unwelcomed her Masaomi?"

"Just shut up," he rolled his eyes.

"How much are you getting paid her exactly, sweetie?"

Masaomi scrunched his face up. No way was he letting this pathetic man call him 'sweetie'. It was so degrading. One part of him wanted to reach over and punch the man in the face, while another part of him wanted to run away screaming and crying. He didn't do either.

"Nine dollars an hour. Twenty hours a week. It's not much, but it's enough," The younger replied very simply. Why he felt the need to answer all of the order's questions baffled him, it was probably because of his constant fear of the man. Not that he could hurt him anymore; not now that he had Shizuo. Shizuo was his protection.

"I take it the brute is still having to help you pay your way then isn't he?" The man chuckled, a very ugly sound. Kida just looked away. This honesty did embarrass him, and he really despised talking about it. Taking money from Shizuo made him feel like such a bad person, and it always put a real downer on his mood. He wished he didn't have to, but there weren't many well-paying jobs he could get with no qualifications. The boy was a high school dropout, all thanks to the one man mocking him at that very second. "I know you don't like taking money from him. And you don't have too."

Kida snapped back to attention, his lifeless eyes finding the older man's devious ones staring right back at him, with a glint of excitement in them. It made him more afraid then he already way, but nevertheless, he pushed on. "I'm listening."

"I'm offering you a job Masaomi. One that others would kill for. Stop by my office tonight. You remember where it is, right?"

"H-how could I forget," he cursed himself for stuttering. The man took his drink and biscuit from Rio and without another word, he left the shop. It took Kida a while to notice Rio's deep brown eyes on him. He nodded to her before rushing into the staffroom and sitting on one of the uncomfortable plastic chair, his head in his hands. I will not cry, he told himself, and luckily he didn't. Not now. Not here. The blond stayed in the staff room comforting himself until his phone beeped, signaling it was time for his break. Figuring he was composed enough, he left the room and headed for the exit of the shop only to be stopped mid reach for the door handle by the sound of Rio's voice.

"Masaomi..." it took her a while to find the words."Who was that man?"

Masaomi hesitated. Was he allowed to tell her? But why wouldn't he be? He exhaled loudly before grasping the door handle and opening the door quickly, not turning to face the girl as he delivered his answer.

"Izaya Orihara," the name was like poison on his tongue, and tasted bitter in his mouth. To hear his own voice speak that name once again was like a living nightmare.

Shizuo roamed the busy streets beside Tom, not even noticing the presence of the crowds around him. All he could think about was Kida. It was their one year anniversary and he couldn't think of the proper way to celebrate such an occasion; he'd never had to do this before. The man thought about taking his boyfriend out for dinner, but that just seemed far to cliché, and not something that he or Kida would have enjoyed anyway. Whatever he did, it had to be really special. This is very frustrating he thought, clenching his fists in his pockets. He really was no good at this romance stuff; Kida knew much more than he did.

"Something bothering you?" Tom quested, glancing back at his friend over his shoulder, his glasses falling to the end of his nose. Shizuo sighed. He found it very awkward to talk to Tom about Kida for some odd reason. His boss had never really met Kida, only once or twice and they only made small talk, so it wasn't as if the other man could really offer much help in these situations. Regardless, Tom was the only person he could talk to other than Celty, and she wasn't around right now.

"I just don't know what to do with Kida today."

"Oh yeah? His birthday or something?"

"Nah, our anniversary."

"Damn Shizuo! You should have said. I would have given you a day off!"

Shizuo waved a hand in a dismissive protest. "He's working today too anyways. His boss would never have given him the time off."

"Well...Just take the kid to a night club or something. He's nineteen now, that's why guys his age should be doing."

"Have you met the guy? He's not exactly like other guys his age. He's been through too much to be so ordinary. He's much too boring to have a good time at a night club."

"You know, at anyone else, that would be an insult. In fact, Masaomi would probably be offended by it."

"Kida's not offended by anything I do." He accentuated Kida's name. It seemed more informal to call him 'Masaomi' and he hated in when Tom did that.

Tom made a sound of exasperation and gripped the bridge of his nose. "If you say so. Anyways, just take him to dinner. Or bingo, if he's as boring as you say he is."

"Very funny. I don't think he'd enjoy coming to dinner with me..."

"As long as he's with you, I'm sure he'll be fine." And with that, Tom continued walking which was an unspoken sign that Shizuo should follow. The blond pondered a moment, as he pulled out a cigarette and put it in his mouth, whether or not he ever had offended Kida. He hated to think he had, because he was very certain that his lover would not have told him. There was no way to read Kida's emotions. His eyes even showed nothing; they had been just as dead as usual. Every night, Shizuo prayed to a God he didn't believe in that one day, Kida could regain his youth, and maybe even just be happy again.

Finally, Kida reached the exact place he swore to himself he'd never go again. The building almost seemed to glare down at him, and he felt so very small. Clearing his mind of his fears and worries, he entered the building and went up to Izaya's office, cursing himself all the way. He had to keep reminding himself that he could definitely use whatever it was Izaya would offer him. Any pay rise would be a fantastic thing for him, lifting a huge weight off his shoulders. The thought of never having to borrow money from Shizuo ever again almost made him smile; almost.

When he entered the office, just about everything looked exactly the same. He heard a noise coming from the computer screen, and when he walked around the empty desk to look at it, he wished he hadn't. It was the video of him, being carelessly and violently fucked against a desk by Shizuo. Hearing his own cries on the video made him want to scream and run, just never stop running. But for some reason, oblivious to him, he just couldn't stop staring at the screen. Masaomi didn't even notice as Izaya entered the room from his bedroom.

"Shocking isn't it?" His voice, as it always did, snapped Masaomi back into attention. The boy stared at him from across the room with glassy eyes. "How horribly he used to treat you? He's such a beast."

"D-don't talk about him like that," Masaomi knew his eyes were still wide and he could barely even see out of them. The image on the screen was stuck in his head and he feared it. He feared the image of his own boyfriend.

Izaya slowly crossed the room to stand at Masaomi's side, and whisper in his ear.

"I know he still treats you like that Masaomi," he said in a hushed breathy voice as he reached out and grabbed Masaomi's wrist, yanking up the sleeve of his worn grey hoodie. There was a dark purple hand mark on his wrist that he purposefully kept hidden. How on Earth had Izaya noticed that? There wasn't a lot he didn't notice. So quickly that the young blond could barely comprehend what was happening, Izaya leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on the pulsing bruise, a comforting action that Kida reflexively jerked away from, almost losing his footing as he did so. The informant caught him with an arm around his waist before he could fall. He had a much lighter touch than Shizuo, Kida thought as he stared up into dark red eyes that didn't seem scary like usual, but more like a happy color. A color he could take comfort in. This was all an act, obviously, Kida knew that. He was not about to fall for it either, but it was nice to pretend for a while that someone noticed how hurt he was; Shizuo certainly didn't. As much as he loved the man, it was like he just assumed nothing he did or said could ever affect Kida in a negative way, and that was the only flaw the young blond could ever find in his boyfriend. However, it was a very big one.

"Stop it," Masaomi said, in a choked voice that could be easily mistaken for the voice of someone about to cry. That was one thing he would not allow himself to do in front of Izaya ever again. The informant pulled Masaomi back up onto his feet, and once safely on ground, Kida backed away from him. "Stop pretending like you care about me all of a sudden. Like you even know me."

"But I do know you Kida," chimed Izaya, taking a big step forward so that the two of them were inches apart. "I know you better than you know yourself. I see the blood coursing through your veins. I see more than you're pathetic excuse for a boyfriend does. I see you're not satisfied. I see the truth hidden in your lies. I know that you have no one who understands you; no one like me. And I know that someone who sees you like I do is exactly what you need. I see your guilt beneath all your shamefulness. I know how you think, I know your mindset. Looking at you, I can see your past. I see the scars. I know what you're scared of, what will make you breakdown and cry. I know you Kida. I know you like no one knows you."

That was the first time anyone had ever told Kida exactly what he himself saw when he looked in a mirror. He saw everything in himself that Izaya could see. And he loved it. To have someone understand him so deeply, know him so well. The idea that Izaya spent so much time looking at him, thinking about him, watching him to know so much; it made him feel so much happier than he thought this man ever could. All he'd ever felt for Izaya was a strong sense of fear and hatred. Now, he didn't even know what to think anymore. Obviously he couldn't just leap into his arms and forgive him. Not after everything he'd done. But he couldn't bring himself to walk away from the first person who really got him.

"You know me," was all he could say, and Izaya smiled, a smile that wasn't devious or sinister, but very calm. Kida wondered if it was a fake smile, but it looked pretty genuine to him. "I want to know you..."

"You want to know me?" He seemed to laugh little bit as he spoke. A cute chuckle rather than an ugly, throaty sound. Kida nodded. "Then you'll have to be around me more. I'm offering you a job as my secretary. Namie quit last week and I can't think of anyone I'd want around every day more than you, Kida. I pay you fifty dollars an hour and you'll work twenty five hours a week."

Hardly anyone called him Kida anymore. It was like a name that was reserved for Shizuo and Shizuo only, so it seemed slightly foreign on Izaya's lips. Nevertheless, the boy accepted it. Thinking of Shizuo made him have to face the problem that his boyfriend would never in a million years approve of him working for Izaya. "Okay. It's a deal." It would just have to be their little secret.

Once his office was entirely empty (Kida had hurried back home to the Brute after discussing his new job), Izaya flopped himself down gracefully onto his office chair. He stared out of his floor to ceiling windows for a moment with a blank expression. The fine line of his mouth gradually grew into a very wide smirk before he burst of laughing and started spinning his chair round and round.

"This'll be fun, this'll be fun, this'll be fun!"