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To Hell and Back

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Graced by the sun’s rays falling across his face, Shizuo awoke from a peaceful slumber.

His eyes fluttering against the light, Shizuo grunted and stretched against the mattress, its pokey springs no longer bothering him. He hummed contently; it was warm. Limbs splayed across the bed, he reached down and idly rubbed his belly. His shirt rode up his torso. With a deep breath, he soaked in his surroundings.

Beside Shizuo, the bed was empty. His arm fell across the barren space, where the pillow was indented and sheets askewed. Looking at around, his eyes still blurry in the morning light, Shizuo lazily scratched at the short hair right above the waistband of his sweatpants. Clothing lay across the floor here and there, or hung unceremoniously from the brass bed frame. A pair of glasses and bowls sat upon a small wooden table across the room, remnants of a meal.

The lamps of the little shack he was in were off, the only source of light being the sun’s rays streaming through the window, which were magnificently bright. The windows were open, too, allowing a soft breeze to tickle Shizuo’s sensitive skin. A murmur of insects chorused from outside, accompanied by the twittering of songbirds.

Their tune was suddenly interrupted by a high-pitched scream outside.

Shizuo sighed and closed his eyes.

A series of giggles accompanied the shriek, and other voices joined the commotion.

It was Saturday, and Shizuo preferred to sleep in. That didn’t mean, however, that the others slept in as well. Reaching over to the bedside table, Shizuo activated his phone screen and read 10:07am. He could keep sleeping, he supposed, but the fanfare of life just outside his window had an inviting appeal.

Plus, recently he’d found it a little more difficult to fall back asleep once the bed was empty.

So he got up, stretching again, from the curl of his toes to the crack of his fingers over his head. A lionish yawn escaped his throat, and Shizuo could smell that brushing his teeth definitely needed to take precedence. First things were first, and Shizuo closed the bathroom door behind him.

About a month had passed since he and Izaya had come to live with the Petrillo family. It felt even longer. Since their arrival at the villa, Shizuo had re-dyed his hair’s roots back to blond and no longer looked like melting gelato, as little girls had apparently referred to him. He had also bulked up a bit, after the stress of his experiences around the world had taken their toll on his mass. His body responded eagerly to the carbohydrate-heavy meals that Sawako, Bianca, and Alfie would cook. Luckily, all of the calories went into the strenuous labor Shizuo had been providing around the farm.

As soon as Alberto and Alfie had realized that Shizuo was capable of lifting tractors and uprooting trees, they had immediately put him to work to earn his and Izaya’s residence. There was a lot to do, too, Shizuo had soon learned, as spring was upon them and the Earth was in bloom.

Shizuo didn’t mind the work, though. Not at all, really. It kept him busy and helped to improve his English, having to communicate with the other men when Izaya wasn’t around. Plus, he got to spend a considerable amount of time with Nana, the family’s cow. The sun was also warm and bright in Tuscany, and whenever Shizuo had a moment to spare, he simply lie on the grass and soak it up. That made up for a lot. He had absorbed enough vitamin D in the last month or two that his skin had darkened a shade or two.

Life on the villa was….

Peaceful.

Of course, at that moment, another shrill scream came from outside, followed by an echo of other voices making the same sound.

Shizuo hummed around his toothbrush. Isabella must have friends over already…

Peace had always been a rare commodity in Shizuo’s life. Ever since the day he came out of the womb yelling, he had never been content. His temper prevented that, and all that incited it. Growing up in Ikebukuro, Tokyo’s most bizarre burrough, didn’t help either. Gangs galore and yakuza mayhem, supernatural creatures, serial killers and assassins… Not exactly the most tranquil of atmospheres.

Not to mention, people like Izaya.

How the times have changed…

When Shizuo’s stomach grumbled, he impatiently threw on some clothes and shoes, neglecting to shave, and left the shack.

“‘Morning, Shizuo,” greeted Alfie as they passed each other on the lawn. He had a hay bale over his shoulder and a pale of chicken feed in another. Alfie had another job during the week, but on the weekends he enjoyed manual labor to keep him busy. He did a lot of yard work and tended the animals, which was good for Shizuo, because that would give the Petrillos less work to dictate to Shizuo.

“‘Morning,” Shizuo offered in reply.

The two had formed an amiable relationship over the past month. They weren’t too close, thanks to the language barrier, and Shizuo naturally opted to spend most of his time with Izaya. And Sawako, who he could actually communicate with. His rapport with Alfie was more of a silent, physical one, anyways. One built from working in the orchard together, in the barn together, in the yard together, all under Alberto’s watchful gain, as well as sitting on the couch at night and watching television after most everyone else had gone to bed. The methods of communication were curt and haphazard, simply getting the point across. It suited them.

“Ohh, you’re up!”

Sawako looked up when Shizuo entered the main house and walked into the kitchen. She was sitting at the breakfast table with a book in front of her. Beside her, in his high chair, sat Lucca with a toothless baby grin. The corners of his mouth were covered in what looked like dried mush. Likewise, the baby’s bib and high chair table was also a mess with the same substance. Shizuo idly wondered if it was applesauce… or mashed vegetables.

“You want eggs or something?” asked Sawako. “They’re fresh from the coop. Bacon? I’m not so settled down that I won’t get up and cook.”

“Nah,” Shizuo opted for grabbing a bowl out of the cupboard and rummaging for some cereal. “Thanks though.” He located a sugary brand and opened the box.

Sawako hummed in discouragement. “Isabella will throttle you if you keep stealing from her cereal…”

Shizuo huffed as he poured the cinnamony flakes into his bowl. “It doesn’t have her name on it.”

“What are you, a toddler?” Sawako chortled, “Maybe if you had some grown-up cereal, you wouldn’t act so childish.”

“That stuff tastes like pencil shavings.” Shizuo made a face as he opened the refrigerator and retrieved the glass bottle of milk -- Nana’s finest. He popped the cap off and poured it over his cereal, and then, grabbing a glass from the cupboard, filled that with milk, too. Satisfied with his breakfast, he slid into the seat beside Sawako. She looked from the bowl, to the glass, to Shizuo’s face with a subtle smirk.

“You, sir, are a dairy redundancy.”

Shizuo ignored her, shoving a massive spoonful of cereal into his mouth. He swallowed a gulp of milk from his glass around the mush he was chewing. With his spoon, he swirled the milk around the bowl, coating every inch of cereal. There was an art to the process -- never allow the same flakes to stay on the bottom too long, or else they’d just get soggy while the cereal on top remained dry.

Crunch crunch crunch. Shizuo ate and avoided a staring contest with Lucca, who chirped happily as he played with his food. Instead, Shizuo looked around. Nobody else was in the house. Of course not; it was such a nice day, they would all be outside.

He swallowed a mouthful of cereal down his throat. “Where’s the flea?”

“How should I know?” Sawako waved a hand absently, “Probably running somewhere.”

Shizuo lowered the glass of milk from his lips and looked out the window.

Izaya ran a lot lately.

At first, the hobby had unsettled Shizuo, afraid that Izaya would take off in the middle of the night and never return. Shizuo had chased him around the town, around Florence, around the forest, around the whole world. He didn’t throw things at Izaya anymore, and Izaya let him catch up to him nowadays. Izaya would slow his pace whenever he got the sprint out of his system, until he fell into pace with Shizuo, and they would walk alongside each other.

But Izaya kept on running.

They weren’t the kind of runs that were athletic jogs, planned by pace and route. No, Izaya just had the tendency to take off. Sometimes without shoes on his feet. Sometimes when Shizuo wasn’t watching, which had initially alarmed him.

Then Shizuo had realized that Izaya was not running from him. Shizuo wasn’t really sure why exactly Izaya was running. Was it from something, or to something else? They were surrounded by a whole new kind of world, and Izaya craved to see it all. He’d run into town, he’d run to the river, to nowhere in particular. He’d observe, and he’d absorb. But… No matter how far Izaya ran, he’d always return to the villa where Shizuo would be waiting for him. His face would be colorful and exuberant, full of a newfound life. So after a while, Shizuo stopped chasing him.

He let Izaya run free, nowadays.

“Something wrong with your shoulder?”

Shizuo looked up to find Sawako’s concerned eyes focused on where Shizuo had been unconsciously rubbing his right arm. He stopped as soon as he noticed himself, shoving the rest of his cereal into his mouth.

“It’s nothing,” he said as he got up to put his dishes in the sink. “Just a little sore.”

But that was the problem; Shizuo didn’t get sore. Ever.

“Take some ibuprofen. With all the heavy lifting Alberto makes you do, no wonder you cramp up now and then!”

“Yeah… I don’t need anything, though. I’ll be fine.”

Sawako smirked and prodded a giggling Lucca. “Men are so stubborn. That’s gonna be you one day.”

Lucca burped in response.

Would Shizuo be fine, though? He found himself rubbing his tendons again, and he sauntered out of the house without another word. A bad feeling in his stomach, physically unconnected to the pain in his right arm but not unrelated, started churning. At first, he had been wary of this new arm, but it hadn’t bothered him like this. Lately, for the last week or so, Shizuo had begun to feel an unsettling sensation from it.

The arm had almost felt natural, and Shizuo hadn’t always realized the difference. Sometimes he would forget that his right limb was not actually the arm with which he was born.

At the first signs of discomfort, he considered seeing a doctor in town. Maybe every strange pocket of the world had its own back alley doctor. On one hand, though, Shizuo wasn’t sure how he would have explained the situation to anyone – “A crazy man and his cyborg army filled my arm with circuits and now it hurts. Can you help?” – Not likely, mused Shizuo. And, on the other hand, Shizuo just didn’t want to deal.

There was also the factor that he had yet to voice his concerns to Izaya…

“Well, whatever,” Shizuo murmured and pulled out cigarette. 


 

Of all the people on the Petrillo villa, it was surprisingly Alberto with whom Shizuo had the strongest bond.

Alberto could only speak Italian, and Shizuo could only speak Japanese. They could never understand a word the other was saying. For that reason, they never bothered to try. The two men communicated with nods and grunts, and that was as much as they needed. Serene silence formed a strong bond between them, especially on beautiful days like this, when they would share a pack of cigarettes on a couple of lawn chairs until one or both of them dozed off under the heat of the midday sun.

Shizuo had become fondly acquainted with all the scents and sounds that graced the villa on the weekends. The earthy aroma of cut grass and fruits traded dominance off and on with whatever the villa or the neighbors were cooking. Today, Isabella had a swarm of school friends over, who had been yelping and laughing since morning, and they would often run by the pair of men with even less interest than if the two were part of the trees. Sometimes there were birds chirping, sometimes there were distant tunes, and sometimes the birds were singing their own tune despite the music on the airwaves.

He had lost track of how long he and Alberto had been dozing on and off between smokes. If Shizuo could communicate with the man, he’d compliment Alberto’s taste in cigarettes – these Europeans really knew their shit. Shizuo had closed his eyes and was taking a long, heavy drag when a weight fell on top of his head.

“You and the old man must contribute to an unnatural amount of that brand’s revenue, don’t you think?”

Shizuo cracked an eye open. Izaya had his arms rested upon Shizuo’s head and was leaning over him.

“It’s a good brand. Don’t think it exists in Japan.”

“Oh? Then if we tried to smuggle any into the motherland, they would surely disappear as soon as we crossed the border.”

Undeterred, Shizuo blew a puff of smoke at the smartass above him. This was enough for Izaya to dodge by moving to stand in front of Shizuo, hands behind his back. That didn’t hide, however, the rustling of plastic a bag looped around one of Izaya’s wrists.

“Where’s that from?”

“Town. I bought things.”

“What kind of things?”

“Can’t tell you. It’s a surprise.”

“A surprise? From you? I don’t want it.”

“Don’t be rude, Shizu-chan. I think you’ll change your mind when you know what it is.”

“Unlikely.”

His sourness didn’t faze Izaya; it never had. If anything, Izaya looked pleased at Shizuo’s attitude. He might be truly anticipating to surprise Shizuo. At that moment, Shizuo was too lethargic to pry. No surprise Izaya could give him would ever be as bad as a surprise criminal mastermind and his murder armor. Whatever was in the bag would be a gift, comparatively.

Shizuo gave Izaya a once over, meant to be as if he was regarding Izaya suspiciously, but the gaze had its own, more shallow purpose.

Over the past month, Shizuo wasn’t the only one whose physical condition had improved. Izaya was far less peaky, less pale. He appeared healthy again. The villa suited him, packing meat back onto his thin frame, clearing the bags from underneath his eyes, and giving natural color to his skin. Part of Shizuo doubted if even Ikebukuro itself could have induced Izaya with the same glow that Shizuo was currently admiring.

Izaya was standing before him, framed by wildlife and sunshine, well aware of the way Shizuo was staring at him. In fact, Izaya stared right back. His eyes wandered over Shizuo, drinking in the sight. He was particularly entranced when Shizuo replaced the cigarette between his lips.

Shizuo felt a stir in his belly that was consequence of their growing closeness. The past month had made it impossible to deny something that was growing between them:

Pure, unbidden attraction.

Beside them Alberto, who must have fallen asleep ages ago, let out a loud and unbothered snore, jolting the other two men from their stupor.

“Almost as loud as Shizu-chan,” commented Izaya.

Shizuo got to his feet and stretched out his back. “Liar.”

“How would you know?” Izaya snickered, “It’s clear an earthquake couldn’t wake you, at this point.”

“Yeah, but, it’s not that bad.”

“The other night when I squeezed your nose,” Izaya pinched his own nose to illustrate his point, “it was definitely that bad.”

“Yeah, I guess I owe you for that,” said Shizuo, grabbing the comic book that he had lain on the arm of the chair. He swatted at Izaya with it, who dodged easily and grinned.

“Should we wake the old man?” asked Izaya with a nod in Alberto’s direction. “He may drown if we leave him catching flies like that.”

Shizuo squinted at the sky. True enough, the clouds were rolling in. The sun was much closer to the horizon as well, and the air had that mossy smell of an incoming storm. Somehow the day had escaped them, but Shizuo wasn’t one to complain about hours of relaxation.

As for Izaya, the only hint of what he’d been up to was in the mysterious plastic bag.

“He’ll be fine,” Shizuo decided, in regards to Alberto’s snoring form. “He’ll wake up for dinner. It’s like clockwork. He’ll know.”

“Oh? What instincts! No wonder you two get along so well.”

They fell into step together on their way back to their modest quarters, moseying through the winding grove. Izaya kept his hands and the bag they were holding behind him.

“What about you?” Shizuo asked. When Izaya rose an eyebrow, Shizuo continued – “You’ve been fuck-knows all day. Hungry?”

A distant roll of thunder shook the sky, which was growing darker by the second. The sound was followed by the shrill scream of half a dozen little girls.

“If Isabella’s minions are staying for dinner, I’d rather avoid the main house.”

“I wouldn’t call friends ‘minions,’ ya know.” For the same reasons that Shizuo found their current whereabouts idyllic, he imagined Izaya had grown restless.

Shizuo wasn’t too surprised when Izaya had been gone all of one day, only to return that night with a bag full of souvenirs from Rome – which was hours away by bus. That was also when Shizuo realized that he had fully come to trust Izaya. Not just as a travelling companion, or partner in action, but as a…

Well, it was a label neither Shizuo nor Izaya had decided upon, or dared to speak aloud.

Companion… Partner…?

They’d spent on unprecedented amount of time in foreign territory. Not just in the obvious way, of crashing on the guest bed of the willing locals, but in what they now were to each other.

Shizuo had never been in love with anyone before. He’d never had a relationship in which he could just touch, hold, or kiss the other person, and that was the right thing to do. For Izaya and him it had so far culminated in the no longer constant urge to kill each other. Instead of the usual antics, there was endless physical comfort. There were soft touches here and there, and there were tranquil nights in an embrace, and there was an ease to each other’s company.

The past month had perhaps been the most surreal stretch of time Shizuo had ever experienced, and that included the outrageous fight for humanity and survival that had come just previously. Their new relationship would surely shock Ikebukuro in ways even an earthquake wouldn’t manage, by the time the two of them made it back to Tokyo.

However, along the same train of thought, Shizuo had to wonder when they would return to Ikebukuro. A month had passed, and Izaya seemed ready to return. He had even picked up a few of his old, flea-like antics – Shizuo was well aware that Izaya got a kick out of trolling tourists with misinformation, when he could catch them. As for Shizuo, he just had the ache in his arm to worry about, which was an issue he’d rather bring to Shinra than any legit, professional doctor. There was backstory there that would surely get Shizuo committed in a foreign country.

Shizuo and Izaya had tried several times to get ahold of Shinra and Celty since their last phone conversation, but the couple was, for some reason, hard to contact nowadays. Hopefully, Ikebukuro had not imploded while they weren’t looking.

“Is that one of her comics?” Izaya asked, eyeing the pages in Shizuo’s hand, breaking Shizuo out of his train of thought.

“Oh, uh – yeah,” said Shizuo. He wasn’t the most well-read man in the world, but he now had the time to fill his time. Of course, he couldn’t read the Italian speech bubbles, so he had to garner the plot from the pictures. He could appreciate the artstyle and the spirited ambition of the superheroine.

“I should have known junior literature would suit you.”

There was a small library in town, and Shizuo believed that Izaya had already read through half of it. No doubt that Izaya had already brushed up on the Italian that he had been previously lacking. “Not everyone likes to read textbooks and know-it-all philosophy pricks.”

“Come on, Shizu-chan,” Izaya huffed, “even I’ve read Harry Potter.”

The rain came down suddenly, while the sun still skirted the horizon, beyond the reach of the dark-grey clouds now over them. It turned the droplets into a shimmering curtain that fell upon them all at once. Their pleasant stoll became a sprint as Shizuo cursed, tucking the comic book under his shirt.

Izaya reached the door to their room first, throwing it open and standing aside for Shizuo to barrell inside after him. They closed the door and shut the windows, but the damage was done – both were soaked through their clothes to their skin.

“At least this made it,” Shizuo murmured, removing the comic book from inside his shirt and tossing it on the bedside table. He would feel guilty if he had ruined a little girl’s book. It was a little damp…

While Izaya went straight for the bathroom to collect some towels, Shizuo kicked off his socks and his shoes, tore of his soaking shirt and flopped himself down on the bed. He closed his eyes to the sound of the rain hitting the roof – patter patter patter – and of Izaya shuffling in the room around him. Then, there was another weight on the bed, Izaya sinking into the mattress beside him. Shizuo felt a towel drape over his face, and he grunted a thank you.

Patter patter patter…

Shizuo could have fallen asleep like that. The rain was different in the country than it was in the city. There were no alley dumpsters and sewers for it to dampen and mix with to become a stench. In a strange way, Shizuo missed even those negative elements of his home town.

The sound of just the rain stretched on longer than Shizuo anticipated. Usually, Izaya would be talking his ear off by now, with nonsense that would distract him from his homesickness.

Reaching up, Shizuo dragged the towel away from his face. Izaya was staring down at him thoughtfully. He had changed from his wet t-shirt to a dry, warmer sweater, but his hair was mussed up from when he ran a towel over it, still wet enough to catch the last of the sunlight streaming through their windows. They were surrounded by a surreal kind of sunshower. Or maybe it was just the softness in Izaya’s expression, as he focussed on Shizuo, that made it feel… unique, and otherworldly.

It made Shizuo hesitate to break the silence. He sat up, running the towel through his hair and over his face – partly to hide the blush that Izaya’s sudden silent, attention was causing him.

“Not like you to sit in silence, flea,” said Shizuo, tentatively.

Izaya crossed his legs – bare except for his briefs, Shizuo now noticed – upon the bed, facing Shizuo fully. “That’s true. We’ve known each other for a long time, haven’t we?”

It was more of a statement than a question. Shizuo frowned, giving the towel another run through his hair. “Yeah? I guess? Crazy to think it’s been since high school, but –”

“But time flies when you’re having fun, right?” finished Izaya. “Even if it was only one of us.”

“Or, when you hate someone, right?” Shizuo offered, without malice… just matter-of-factly.

“Maybe,” said Izaya.

He went back to watching Shizuo, who tossed his towel back into the bathroom through the open door. Shizuo had expected Izaya to take that line of conversation further, to take a few more jabs at Shizuo. Instead, Izaya was looking at Shizuo fondly, openly. It was so unmasked that Shizuo wasn’t entirely sure if he’d ever seen Izaya like that. Shizuo had to stare back.

“When we first met,” Izaya began, “you immediately knew who I was.”

“Not really,” said Shizuo. “You were just some kid that Shinra knew.”

“What I mean is,” continued Izaya, “that you just knew that I was up to no good, as soon as you saw me.”

Shizuo rose an eyebrow. “Yeah? So? I was right.”

Izaya shrugged. “It’s not like you knew anything about me.”

Shizuo shrugged right back at him. “Guess I’m smarter than you give me credit for.”

Izaya snorted, looking down to where his hands fell in his lap, fingers fiddling against each other. “Hardly! I didn’t exactly make it hard to determine. In fact, I even started a rumor that I stabbed Shinra in middle school. You would have known that if you had had any clue of your surroundings.”

Why would you do that? What? Shizuo almost asked, but he withdrew. It was an odd, meandering conversation that they were having, so Shizuo chuckled. “The heck were you out there thinking about today?”

“Hah. A lot. It’s not wrong to think about things, you protozoan.”

“Might do you some good to turn your brain off now and then, though.”

Izaya leaned in to kiss him.

Since they kissed more often, now, Shizuo didn’t immediately question action. He responded out of habit, instinctively, because kissing Izaya was now part of his everyday life.

When Izaya withdrew rather quickly, he smirked. “Cigarettes. Have you ever considered quitting?”

“Hell no. Why, does it bother you?”

Izaya shook his head. “Not at all. I was just curious if it’s phased you – that you have an addiction, technically.”

“Well,” Shizuo began, kicking his feet up onto the mattress and leaning back against the pillows and headboard, “I always imagined I’d die in some crossfire, some street brawl, or by your hands before lung cancer ever caught up to me.”

“You started in high school. Around the time we met. Maybe it’s my long con, my roundabout way of killing you just as you believe.”

Shaking his head, Shizuo smiled at him, “I don’t believe that anymore. If anything, you’re keeping me alive.”

Shizuo heard a hitch in Izaya’s breath.

Izaya shifted to sit on his knees. “I think I’m addicted to information.”

Before Shizuo could ask what that meant, Izaya continued, “Because at the same time you started smoking, I started sleeping with people so that they would tell me things that I couldn’t know any other way.”

He had said it quickly, fast enough that it took a moment for the words to catch up to Shizuo. Then, eyes wide and gaping, Shizuo reached for Izaya.

“H-hey, look, you don’t have to –”

Izaya dodged him as easily as ever, slipping off the side of the bed and to his feet. “No, I want to.”

He began pacing, with Shizuo watching helplessly.

“I think you already know, anyways. I think Josiah told you, in some way, up in that nightmare mansion. Because that’s something he would do. It’s something I would have done. He did manage to coax it out of me, anyways. That I was fifteen. That didn’t matter – I was smarter than most adults. I was already observing humans, and humans were – are – pathetically swayed by sex. Dirty old men, lonely women, distraught mistresses, power hungry thugs – all sickeningly easy to manipulate with a pretty face and open legs.”

Shizuo jolted forward again, sitting on the edge of the bed, feeling ill. “Izaya–”

“It wasn’t too often. Just when I needed to – for information, of course. Shiki asked me once, when I was nineteen and he was giving me a ride home. He asked why a kid like me, who had brains and looks and money and could basically do whatever the hell I wanted with my life, would pursue such an obscure career. True, I could have been a doctor, or a lawyer, a politician, or even a humanitarian, since I love humans so much.

“But that was the point. Any of those things would have put me in a cage. It would have chained me to a world I was desperately trying to avoid – a life of normalcy. I’d be just another human, working my way through life until I died, not knowing what was waiting for me on the other side. Then, Celty and a world of mythology came into my life, and I learned everything I could to try and control my own fate. I haven’t been as concerned after you told me you’d drag me out of hell. I’m counting on that, Shizu-chan.”

Izaya stopped, both talking and his amble around the room. He looked at Shizuo expectedly, but Shizuo was frozen.

“...Just to clarify,” Izaya said, “I never slept with Shiki.”

Blinking, Shizuo shook his head. Every visceral emotion he had to that downpour of words was at odds with each other. Rage? Envy? Confusion? Sorrow? He hadn’t noticed how tightly he was gripping the sheets of the bed.

“It’s an ugly tale, isn’t it?”

Shizuo looked at him pleadingly. “I just… wasn’t expecting… all of that.”

“I tried to know everything about you after we met,” said Izaya. “If you’re in love with me, you deserve to know everything about me. Now you know a little more.”

“But…” Shizuo struggled to respond to any of this. He knew sympathy would be the last thing Izaya would want, so all Shizuo could do was his best to understand. “I already know what I need to know about you, I think. All of that – it’s what you did, not who you are… And you know I’d beat the shit out of any of those people when we got back if you wanted me to, right?”

Thankfully, this made Izaya smile. “Yeah, I know. But that’s not why I told you.”

“Then… Why, exactly?”

“It’s a lead-in,” said Izaya, “to my surprise.”

With that, Izaya picked up the mysterious plastic bag that had been left on a chair. He brought it to Shizuo and handed it over. Puzzled, Shizuo held it and just looked up and Izaya.

“Go ahead,” said Izaya, nodding at the bag with a new wickedness in his eyes.

Suspicious of what the contents of the bag could possibly do with anything in this conversation, Shizuo opened the bag and looked inside.

He immediately closed it again, heat flooding to his face.

“You can’t be serious.”

“I am very serious about this,” said Izaya.

In case his eyes had been tricking him the first time, Shizuo looked back inside the bag. No, they hadn’t been. It was exactly what he had thought he saw – a bag full of lubricant and condoms.

The sounds of the outside storm had been drowned out by Shizuo’s heartbeat in his ears.

“I… see.”

He couldn’t bring himself to look up at Izaya, so Izaya came over, set the bag aside on the bed, and climbed into Shizuo’s lap. Thin fingers threaded themselves in golden strands of hair. Shizuo became precariously aware that he was shirtless, and Izaya wasn’t wearing any pants.

“Izaya…” Shizuo sighed. Was he trying to stop Izaya? He wasn’t sure.

“Don’t act like you don’t want this. We’ve been sharing the same bed. I’ve woken up with how badly you want this poking me in the thigh.”

Shizuo spluttered, “That–! That’s not – Listen, you – I’m not saying I… It’s just that–” His whole head felt hot with shame, and every time he had masturbated in the shower over the last month suddenly flashed before his eyes. This was somewhat mortifying for him.

Laughing, Izaya grabbed Shizuo’s face and pressed their foreheads together. “It’s nothing to be embarrassed about, Shizu-chan. I’m saying you’re not the only one who’s felt like that.”

To tease the situation, Izaya ground his ass down on Shizuo’s crotch, snickering at Shizuo’s grunt of surprise. There was no hiding his arousal, Shizuo realized. Lifting his head to properly look at Izaya, Shizuo grabbed the other’s hands and brought them down between them.

“After everything you just told me,” said Shizuo, “why would you want to…?”

A breathy moment caught up to them while Izaya considered his answer.

“Because,” Izaya began softly, not as manic as he had been a moment before, “you’re not a subject, or a client, or a source for information, or any of those things. You’re just Shizu-chan, and it’s what we both want.”

The words were absolutely certain. Shizuo couldn’t argue. He did want this. He wanted Izaya in ways he’d never thought of another person. He had spent the last few weeks measuring his opportunities, whether it would be appropriate or not to propose taking things further. Ultimately it was fear that kept Shizuo’s hands to himself, since admittedly… he had no idea what he would be doing.

Though as Izaya had just pointed out, this hadn’t prevented Shizuo from using his imagination.

“I almost said something before now,” said Izaya.

Shizuo raised his eyebrows. “Oh yeah?”

“You could have made a move. I wouldn’t have objected. It’s natural when I’m your… Well, whatever I am in the relationship we’ve established. Humans, typically, when they have someone... They have that physical aspect between each other, too.” Izaya sighed, looking at Shizuo. “At least, that’s what I’ve come to observe… about people.”

That’s when Shizuo realized – it wouldn’t exactly be the first time for him, either.

It’s why Izaya had just given Shizuo that confession. Izaya had already had a whirlwind of sexual experiences throughout his life, compared to Shizuo’s limited practice, but all of those were meaningless. It was for reasons that Izaya had already identified – an obsessive need for information. In Izaya’s world, knowledge was power, the only power he could control. And he did control it, better than anyone. That’s why he would use whatever he had at his disposal, even an attractive face, to get the better of other humans. Their encounters were empty, and Izaya made even moreso in their aftermath.

Shizuo, on the other hand, had no information to offer him. No secrets, no knowledge, no power. All Shizuo had was that he was truly, honestly, tragically in love with him.

At some point during their time together, Izaya must have realized – that that was enough. For the first time, Izaya wanted to step down from his observation deck and indulge in something so primal, so natural to humans… for no other reason than wanting it with the man in front of him.

Shizuo wanted to tell him that that in itself had its own power, but maybe Izaya already knew that.

Instead, Shizuo wrapped his arms around Izaya and leaned forward. He brushed his lips against Izaya’s, not quite landing.

“Can’t say you won’t have to give me some pointers, here and there,” said Shizuo.

Izaya nodded vigorously, so closely that their noses brushed up against each other. “I know. I’m looking forward to it.”

He brought their mouths together, throwing his whole weight into the kiss and knocking Shizuo back down to the bed.

They had had their fair share of heated makeouts so far, but this was so obviously on another level. Both Shizuo and Izaya went for Izaya’s sweater, tearing it off and leaving them bare chest to bare chest, before they crashed into each other once more. Shizuo tasted Izaya desperately, clinging to him as Shizuo shifted them to their sides. Then, tempted by the tight briefs, he reached down to grope at Izaya’s ass. Izaya broke away for a moment to flick his nose over Shizuo’s, smirking.

Shizuo could also feel Izaya against his stomach, and though neither of them was quite hard yet, they were getting closer by the second.

They tousled like that a few times, breaking for air every few seconds, before ending up lying properly down the length of the bed, Shizuo’s head on the pillows and Izaya on top again. His lips left Shizuo’s mouth and started teasing at his neck. That was fair enough for Shizuo – he didn’t exactly have a gameplan, and his brain was too muddled to think ahead in this situation. All he could listen to was his body’s reaction, and right now his body was telling him to let Izaya keep doing that with his mouth.

Izaya kept moving lower, and lower, exploring nearly every inch of Shizuo’s chest. From the hollow in Shizuo’s neck, to between his pecs, down his abs to his naval. Humming with content, Shizuo lifted his head slightly to watch Izaya descend, one of his hands casually caressing through Izaya’s hair. A hand then found Shizuo’s dick through his jeans and gave it a squeeze.

“Oi,” snapped Shizuo, propping himself up on his elbows.

Snickering, Izaya went for the button of Shizuo’s jeans, then the zipper. Shizuo’s voice caught in throat when Izaya began to pull down the jeans, Shizuo lifting his hips to allow them to be shucked off and discarded to the floor. Now, they were both stripped down to their briefs.

Having now situated himself over Shizuo’s legs, Izaya was giving Shizuo a hungry once over. He bit his lips as his eyes soaked in the sight of Shizuo under him. The attention made Shizuo’s face go hot. Though Shizuo never gave much thought to how attractive he might appear to others, it was clear that Izaya was pleased with what he saw before him. It instilled Shizuo with a newfound confidence, who was admiring Izaya’s stripped down appearance just as much.

In a moment, the state of the world returned to him – the persistent rain outside, the distant thunder, the darkening room as the sun went down. They could still see each other just fine, in the glow of a liquid twilight. Izaya’s ivory skin took on a hue of honey, and Shizuo desperately needed to touch him.

“C’mere,” said Shizuo, just above a whisper.

Izaya’s eyes locked with his, as if the thought to resist was crossing his mind.

But he complied.

Hands on Shizuo’s chest, Izaya crawled back up to be meet Shizuo’s lips in a soft kiss that was broken when Shizuo moved to frame Izaya’s face with his hands. Their eyes met again, completely focussed on each other, before kissing again – once, twice, again, over and over.

Shizuo was beginning to see the pattern of his role in Izaya’s world; he was always the exception.

The tempo changed, suddenly. They had lost a bit of their initial rashness, maybe because now they were sure, they were absolutely certain… This was really happening.

Their legs tangled as they clung to each other and rolled in the rumpled sheets, and Shizuo felt their arousals rub against each other, even through the restraints of their briefs.

Wrapping his arms around Izaya’s thin frame, Shizuo held him close and kissed him. His hands wandered down Izaya’s back, drawing over the patterns that mapped Izaya himself, his emotions regarding everything the world could throw at him. This action seemed to stir Izaya even more, and he responded by nipping at Shizuo, fondling every inch of Shizuo’s bare skin, groping at Shizuo’s cotton-clad ass and pushing their crotches closer together. The lines on Izaya’s back led all the way down to where Shizuo’s fingers came in contact with the waistband of his tight, black briefs.

Izaya broke away from Shizuo and looked at him. Shizuo, beginning to lose all rationality as his blood went from his brain to his dick, stared back at him, silently relaying what he wanted.

Then, Izaya was nodding and his hand was over Shizuo’s, coaxing Shizuo to pull down. So Shizuo did.

He pushed Izaya down against the mattress, peeling off the briefs from Izaya’s raised legs, until Izaya was completely naked beneath him. He had caught Izaya’s calves before they fell back to the bed, holding them up gently. It was now Shizuo’s turn to rake his eyes down Izaya, and the sight took his breath away.

Izaya was lying there, disheveled and out-of-breath, a heated blush across his face. He was watching Shizuo carefully, most likely gauging Shizuo’s reaction as the latter looked him over, completely exposed.

Shizuo’s gaze settled between Izaya’s legs, where there was a fully erect cock.

At first it was jarring, to have Izaya displayed so candidly before him. Shizuo hesitated to accept such vulnerability from anyone. They had already allowed themselves to know so much about each other, and this was the final step they had yet to take.

However, Shizuo had always been a creature of instinct and sex – as he was quickly realizing – was an act ruled by the primal intuition that Shizuo had always had in spades. All he needed to do was surrender to what the pulsing heat in his body was telling him to do.

He wanted to kiss his way down Izaya’s pale leg, so he did. He wanted to touch Izaya’s arousal, so he cupped a hand under his balls and stroked up to the tip. He wanted to leave a mark inside Izaya’s thigh, so he sucked and nibbled on the sensitive skin until it reddened. He wanted to taste Izaya, so he moved his mouth to Izaya’s dick licked up and down the length. He wanted to make Izaya come undone in bliss, so he encompassed the entire length within his mouth and sucked. He wanted to make this time for Izaya different than all the others, so he kept giving.

Above him, Izaya had begun to gasp in ways that found Shizuo’s erection struggling against his own briefs. Once Shizuo’s name had come out in a strangled moan, Shizuo had risen fast enough to swallow the rest of Izaya’s breath.

Izaya grabbed at him as he kissed him back. He frantically pushed down at Shizuo’s briefs, not to much avail. Shizuo, who couldn’t help but snigger at the others’ plight, broke the kiss to reach down and assist. Izaya caught a hint of the same sense of humor in his tone as he demanded, “Off – take them off.”

In a few seconds, Shizuo’s underwear was shucked off and discarded to the floor. Finally, there was absolutely nothing between them.

Izaya’s legs spread in open invitation for Shizuo to grind against him. Shizuo went slightly hectic as they kissed again, their now-bare dicks rubbing against each other’s. All of this was new and thrilling for Shizuo. He could have kept at this, thrusting against one another until they came. He knew he wanted more though, and he began to peck kisses down from Izaya’s lips to his naval. Fisting the sheets and throwing his head back, Izaya arched his back and murmured encouragements.

Shizuo found new leverage to reach beneath Izaya and grab his ass. A finger traced down the crack down to the tight entrance, and that’s when Shizuo heard the bag rustling.

Izaya grabbed a tube from his bag of surprises and sat up. In a fluid motion, he was then sitting in Shizuo’s lap, Shizuo now sitting back on his heels.

“Just hold on,” Izaya told Shizuo, kissing him briefly.

Shizuo opened his mouth, not sure with what to respond, but Izaya was already popping the lube open and coating his own fingers.

“Izaya–” Shizuo started, but Izaya was quicker.

With one arm wrapped around Shizuo’s neck, Izaya reached behind himself with his other. The way Izaya rocked his hips and thrusted their cocks together gave Shizuo pause. Holding Izaya steady by his ass, Shizuo watched Izaya close his eyes and hiss in discomfort as he began to move.

While true enough that Shizuo had not had a plan going into this, he was still caught by surprise. Perhaps a part of him had assumed, due to Izaya being the one to initiate this, that their current roles would be… somewhat reversed.

So Shizuo studied Izaya and asked, “That’s… that’s what you want?”

Izaya nodded vehemently, eyes scrunched closed in concentration, gasping as he twisted his hand.

Shizuo wasn’t going to argue, but he also could not help feeling anxious. “Shouldn’t I…?”

Izaya shook his head. “I know what I’m doing.”

Shizuo wasn’t sure if that was a dig at Shizuo’s own inexperience, or just the fact Izaya had gone through this enough times before. Either way, Shizuo felt even more adamant that he should, in fact, be doing something right now. He did not have the control nor patience to sit idly by while Izaya worked himself open.

Letting go of Izaya, Shizuo reached with one hand to retrieve the lube and with the other to pull Izaya’s fingers out of himself.

Jostled by all the motion, Izaya squeaked, “Shizu-chan?”

“I’ve got this,” said Shizuo, hopefully sounding more confident than he really was. “I’m not just gonna sit here, ya know?” He squirted a generous amount of lubricant onto his fingers and rubbed them together, warming the gel as best he could.

“Getting antsy, Shizu-chan?”

“Shut up,” Shizuo grumbled. He found the already-slick entrance to Izaya’s anus and waited, his own nerves at war with themselves. “Just – just say if it hurts, okay?”

Izaya gripped Shizuo’s shoulders and, surprisingly solemn, nodded.

Shizuo worked his finger inside and found it, despite Izaya having already started this process, tighter than Shizuo expected. Then again, having only ever tried this process on himself once before, his expectations were limited and ignorant.

Izaya reacted immediately, though, by inhaling sharply and tightening his hold on Shizuo. His spine curved as Shizuo’s finger moved in deeper, and his head fell back in a gasp as Shizuo added another, exposing his throat for Shizuo’s mouth to latch onto. Simultaneously teasing at the skin of Izaya’s neck, Shizuo scissored his fingers to start spreading the muscle surrounding them.

Soon Izaya’s breathing turned to panting, in the same rhythm as he rocked back onto Shizuo’s hand. Their dicks frotted against each other with each movement, and Shizuo found his own hips moving for more contact against his cock. Izaya reached between them and wrapped a hand around Shizuo, stroking and thumbing at the leaking tip, and Shizuo nearly lost his mind. There was so much to focus on, from the work of his fingers to the friction on his dick to the taste of Izaya’s must on his tongue. Shizuo feared he might lose control before Izaya was even ready.

Shizuo impatiently added a third finger, causing Izaya to gasp in his ear. Before Shizuo could raise concerns, Izaya fisted Shizuo’s shaggy hair and yanked his head up so that they were kissing each other, wet and sloppy. Feeling assured, Shizuo twisted the angle of his fingers and – as hoped, Izaya broke their kiss and started squirming.

Izaya rocked backwards and dug his fingers into Shizuo’s nape. He let little whispers of Shizuo’s name escape him, and Shizuo lost himself in the sight in front of him – Izaya, red-faced and absolutely debauched, riding Shizuo’s fingers for the sheer pleasure of it.

Then Izaya slowed down. He reached behind him to push at Shizuo’s wrist and lifted his hips, freeing Shizuo’s fingers.

Startled by the change of pace, Shizuo blinked. “Flea?”

Shaking his head slightly and gulping, Izaya settled back onto Shizuo’s lap. All he offered was a curt “Not yet,” before retrieving something else from the bag.

Shizuo understood, and watched Izaya pull out a condom. Right, thought Shizuo, not without a sense of disappointment.

“I should’ve known your stamina would be impressive, even for this purpose,” said Izaya, attempting to fill this sudden interlude with his own voice.

Shizuo grunted a thankless response. He noticed Izaya’s hands shaking slightly, and it caused a struggle between Izaya and the condom’s wrapper.

By the time Izaya managed to rip open the package, Shizuo had become overcome with a desire he hadn’t realized he had until this very moment. Right before Izaya could begin to unfurl the latex over his length, Shizuo grabbed Izaya’s wrist and blurted –

“I want to come inside you.”

A frozen silence followed. Izaya, caught off guard, stared at Shizuo with wide eyes. Shizuo gaped helplessly back at him, reddening in embarrassment, appalled at his own boldness.

Just as Shizuo began to open his mouth to take it back, Izaya threw the condom somewhere across the room and said, enthusiastically, “I want that too.”

Izaya punctuated the statement by kissing Shizuo hard. Exhilarated, Shizuo crashed them back onto the mattress. Shizuo then pecked his way down Izaya’s chest and stomach before rising to situate himself. With Izaya’s thighs spread on either side of him, Shizuo held the other’s hips up so that he could align himself with Izaya’s ass. Once Shizuo’s tip rubbed against the entrance, Shizuo felt Izaya brace himself – reaching above his head to grasp the iron bed frame.

With a deep breath, Shizuo pushed in.

The sensation was immediately overwhelming. Tightness encompassed the first fraction of his length, and Shizuo needed more. Groaning, he thrust in further, earning a yelp from Izaya. He was wary of his own impulses and the strength he had within him. He knew himself, and his usual fits of violence when he couldn’t keep a straight head. However, in this instance, Shizuo had no desire to unleash any of that.

Izaya knew all of this as well, and yet he still bucked upwards to encourage the man above him. Gasping, Izaya reached down to grope Shizuo’s ass and push the man further inside himself.

Shizuo doubled over from how good it felt.

Growling, he grabbed Izaya’s wrists and pinned them above his head, and Shizuo thrust in deeper and deeper until there was no more to give.

When Shizuo was fully enveloped, they both needed a moment to breathe. They had come to face to face, Shizuo lying over the length of Izaya’s body. Shizuo supported himself on his elbows, framing Izaya’s head. Izaya’s eyes were closed, and Shizuo could feel Izaya’s body adjusting around his girth. That, mixed with how their breath mingled between their close proximity, had already intoxicated Shizuo in a way he had never known was possible.

Trying not to move too much, Shizuo found a strand of Izaya’s hair that had fallen over the other’s face and brushed it to the side. Izaya’s eyes fluttered open at the contact and found Shizuo’s tender gaze, masking nothing from his expression.

Shizuo continued to smooth back Izaya’s hair, tucking a strand behind the man’s ear. His thumb skimmed gently against Izaya’s cheek. He became lost in the way Izaya was looking back at him, searching for something, as if mesmerized.

He’s so fucking beautiful, Shizuo thought, and almost said. He also could have said I love you in this moment, but found himself swallowing anything he wanted to say. Words were currently unnecessary, for both of them, even Izaya. Instead, they embraced each other even tighter and kissed each other heatedly at the same time that Shizuo began to move his hips – in and out, in and out.

They moaned into each other’s mouths, but didn’t break apart.

Shizuo kept a steady pace at first, rocking mildly back and forth against Izaya’s rear. Wrapping his legs around Shizuo’s waist, Izaya began moving to meet him with each thrust. Their pace quickened rapidly, Shizuo relishing the way it felt. Izaya broke their exchange of kissing with a throaty heave of ecstasy.

Shizuo got hold of the inside of one of Izaya’s knees and bent the leg so that he would have a better angle. Izaya was, as Shizuo could have expected, very bendy. With the new position, Shizuo was now striking Izaya in his most sensitive spot with every thrust, and it made Izaya quake beneath him.

He could have never imagined Izaya to make such sweet, mewling noises as Shizuo pistoned into him more erratically, but those sounds were only fuel to Shizuo’s movement. Shizuo answered with a particularly particularly hefty jab, pulling out and ramming all the way in again. He stifled a groan against Izaya’s neck – they were both getting dangerously close.

The nonsense Izaya had been spouting became short-of-breath words, “Faster – harder – touch me – !” and the like. Once Shizuo gave in, snaking a hand between them to stroke Izaya’s length in time with their rhythm, it all culminated quickly from there.

Izaya came first, arching his back up against Shizuo and every breath in him leaving at once. The fluid released onto Shizuo’s hand and against his stomach, but Shizuo moreso felt Izaya’s body constrict around him. It was final push to put Shizuo over the edge.

Driving his dick as deep as it would go, Shizuo felt the tense heat unravel him all the way to his core. Everything that had been built up inside him was released into Izaya with a gravelly moan.

Panting heavily, Shizuo rode out the last waves of the orgasm still within Izaya’s ass. Izaya, already limp and breathless, waited and watched him with a surprising amount of warmth. He seemed utterly content.

Arms shaking, that stamina of Shizuo’s that Izaya found so impressive was finally spent. He fell into Izaya’s arms and nuzzled against the other man, euphoric.

Shizuo had never felt so goddamn high. Sex was the best thing in the world, he decided, and almost hated himself for waiting this long to have it. But on the other hand, he knew who he was with and where he was was key to this bliss. He hummed blithely at the idea that this could and would become a regular thing between them.

Slowly, and a bit reluctantly, he pulled himself from Izaya and shifted to lie beside the other man, who was still watching him with uncharacteristic silence. They faced each other, flushed and unkempt. They seemed not to mind the sticky mess between them, too smitten with the afterglow of the situation. Izaya was even more striking after sex, Shizuo thought, in a way that was unusually soft and reserved.

Shizuo grinned around his breathlessness.

“Hey flea,” he said.

Izaya smirked back at him, “Hi beast.”

“That was…” Shizuo started, but only completed the thought with a satisfied sigh. “Fuck,” he said instead.

Izaya snorted. “Very poetic, Shizu-chan.”

“Yeah,” Shizuo agreed. He reached for Izaya and cupped a hand over the man’s nape, drawing their foreheads together. They took a deep breath and shifted closer. Shizuo’s hand ran from the back of Izaya’s neck, over the scars that covered his back, down to his ass…

Then, Shizuo rolled off the bed. At Izaya’s sound of protest, Shizuo bent back down to peck a kiss on his lips, but remained on his feet.

“Just a sec,” Shizuo promised, and he headed towards the bathroom.

Inside, he found a cloth, rinsed it, and rung out the excess water. He was back on the bed in less than a minute, wiping himself off on the way. Izaya gave him a caustic look, but still let Shizuo clean between his legs.

“What a gentleman,” he quipped.

“Hmph.”

The rag was dropped to the floor, and Shizuo climbed back to Izaya’s side, pulling a sheet over them. Shizuo propped himself against the pillows, and Izaya rested his head on Shizuo’s lax shoulder while Shizuo reached with his other arm for a pack of cigarettes that he had on the bedside table.

It was a perfect moment, in Shizuo’s mind. He brought the lit cigarette to his mouth, holding it with one hand while the other ran lovingly though Izaya’s hair. His wits were returning to him, but he was still on cloud nine. Outside, the thunder had subsided, but the sun had fully set and the rain continued delicately. The only light in the room came from a small lamp across the room, which Shizuo hadn’t even realized was on until now. He watched Izaya draw across his skin with a finger and thought about everything that had lead them here, to this peaceful, perfect moment.

Then Izaya broke the silence.

“Can I tell you something, honestly?”

Shizuo couldn’t help but chuckle. “I don’t know – can you?”

The joke wasn’t lost on Izaya, but he was determined. “I’ve wanted to do that for a while.”

It wasn’t completely surprising, but it was nice to hear that Shizuo hadn’t been the only one holding back over the past month. They had been on a long journey together, and Shizuo had already known that their feelings were, for better or worse, mutual.

“Since when?” asked Shizuo, thinking he would get an answer like since we got here or since that night on the boat.

Instead what he got was the truth:

“Since high school.”

Shizuo’s hand froze halfway from bringing the cigarette to his lips. At first, he figured he must have heard Izaya incorrectly.

Since high school.

However, that would mean that since they were fifteen, Izaya had been terrorizing Shizuo’s life, scheming and feuding with him, all while…

“But…?” Shizuo struggled to speak. His brain, which had just been delirious with joy, was now short-circuiting.

“Don’t think about it too hard, Shizu-chain,” said Izaya, lifting his head. “You wouldn’t want to strain yourself.”

Shizuo took a long, helpless drag from his cigarette before putting it out in the nearby tray. He ran a hand through his hair and fixed Izaya with a calculating look. Izaya held his gaze, as if challenging Shizuo to press the matter further. Initially, it seemed like that would be the most sensical reaction – to pitch a fit upon this revelation and question everything that had occurred between them over the last decade.

But Shizuo found that he didn’t have to.

All at once, everything made more sense than it ever has.

“Okay,” he said.

Izaya let out a breath he may not have realized he’d been holding. “Okay?”

“Yeah,” Shizuo said simply. He prodded Izaya to lie back down upon him and laced their fingers together over his chest. “Okay.”

Izaya sighed against Shizuo’s skin, “...Okay.”

And it really was okay, Shizuo thought. Well, it was plenty fucked up, but that was natural for them, and Shizuo already knew this. As they fell asleep in each other’s embrace, Shizuo knew that he was in love with a terrible idiot. But now, Shizuo also knew without a doubt that Izaya loved him back.


 The storm passed through the night, and Shizuo awoke to another sunny day.

He felt the warmth before he opened his eyes, a patch making its from the window, across the room and against Shizuo’s bare skin. He could hear birds outside, and smell the damp Earth creeping into their little room.

This morning, though, the bed beside him was not empty.

Before Shizuo could open his eyes, he was already smiling at feeling the weight against his chest. There was a mop of black hair tickling under his chin, and his arms were wrapped firmly around a thin waist. He could feel Izaya’s the mellow, even breathing – still asleep. They had never gotten up to clothe themselves, so they lay naked against each other, perfectly tranquil. Exuberant, Shizuo tightened his hold and buried his face into Izaya’s hair.

Izaya made a sleepy noise at the sudden jostle, and Shizuo released him again upon the mattress. Shizuo propped himself up on an elbow and faced Izaya, whose eyes remained closed but with a new furrow to his brow.

Watching Izaya fight off his own consciousness, Shizuo played back the events of last night in his head – with vivid visuals. He idly began to brush back Izaya’s hair and run his hand along the length of his body, a stroke of pure affection. It wasn’t often enough that Shizuo got to watch Izaya sleep, and it felt like a privilege to observe such a creature of chaos in such stasis.

Yet, at the same time, Shizuo had half a hope that Izaya would awaken and that they could do it all over again.

Ultimately, Shizuo let Izaya sleep.

He got up and showered, thinking of how sex could become a regular thing for them, now. They were a thing, the two of them. Kind of like normal people, with the caring for each other and all that – now with sex, an aspect Shizuo was immediately a huge fan of. Rinsing shampoo from his his hair, Shizuo remembered Izaya’s overdue confession – “Since high school.”

That’s like an open-ended invitation to initiate this sort of stuff from now on, right? Shizuo reasoned with himself. The possibilities made him giddy.

When he emerged from the bathroom, freshly washed from the sweat and stick of last night, Izaya was still snoozing on the bed. He had rolled over and curled into himself, clinging to the sheet. Shizuo’s heart soared at the sight.

After pulling on some sweatpants and a t-shirt, Shizuo was set to rejoin his companion on the bed, to spoon Izaya, maybe fall back asleep, and let this be a lazy Sunday.

But a piercing scream erupted from outside.

Izaya bolted awake at the same time that Shizuo’s head snapped towards the sound.

“What was that?!” Izaya asked, wide-eyed.

They didn’t have the chance to guess before another shriek rung through the air, this time longer and accompanied by stressful hollers and shouts in Italian and Japanese. It wasn’t like yesterday – it wasn’t the joyful cry of children, but one of a child’s complete and utter terror.

Shizuo’s heartbeat had already taken off. His mind flashed with images of possessed blue eyes and armies of determined enemies that had tracked them around the world. Both he and Izaya turned to face each other at the same time, and Shizuo knew that Izaya was having the same thoughts. Are we no longer safe?

“Stay here,” Shizuo said gravely, before running outside to investigate.

Upon entering the full sunlight, Shizuo squinted and held an arm above his eyes as a visor. He quickly searched for the source of the screaming – just as he heard another one.

“ISABELLA!” He yelled, running to where he had just heard the girl.

However, he could have sworn he had also just heard the whinny of a horse, and there were no horses on the farm.

Sprinting, he came upon a wild commotion – Isabella streaked by him, disappearing into the main house, and Bianca slammed the door behind the girl. Both of their faces had been horror stricken. Another whinny garnered Shizuo’s attention, and he turned to witness Alfie and Alberto dodging the hooves of a massive beast.

At first glance, it was indeed a horse. A black horse. But as it reared itself before Shizuo, there was something off about it. The way its shape was hard to see in the sunlight, hard to focus on…

“What the shit – !” Shizuo jumped back from where the animal’s front legs landed with a heavy thud.

The horse inexplicably calmed at Shizuo’s presence, and Shizuo had a chance to notice what should have been very evident from the start – that the horse’s face was nothing but an inky, swirling, intangible mass.

“Wait a minute,” Shizuo gasped, unable to believe it, “you’re–!”

He couldn’t finish the thought before another form crashed into his chest. This body was smaller, human, and wrapped its arms around Shizuo familiarly. They were strong enough to knock Shizuo back several feet, but they remained upright as the new figure clung to Shizuo desperately.

What really clued Shizuo in though, was that where he should have seen the face of this person, there were only shadows.

“Shizu-chan?!”

Izaya had chosen this moment to arrive at the scene, skidding to a halt in front of them, flushed and anxious. He had managed to throw on some clothes, albeit not much. He also didn’t have much of a chance to assess the situation before the tides changed, again.

As soon as they heard Izaya’s voice, the person against Shizuo retracted their embrace, turned, and waved an arm. A giant, black scythe materialized out of thin air and was swung around towards Izaya so that it’s blade came within an inch of the man’s neck.

Shizuo, watching helplessly, growled and took a step forward, but the newcomer placed a severe but gentle hand against his chest.

When this became the situation, however, Izaya became completely calm. He paid no mind to the weapon by his throat and regarded the assailant with sardonic pleasantry.

“Always a pleasure to see you, Celty.”