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Orihara Izaya’s not dead.

He might as well be, maybe, but Shizuo alone knows better. The informant doesn’t get out of bed, doesn’t speak unless spoken to and barely eats enough of what Shizuo forces on him to keep himself breathing. Most of his time is spent asleep – hell, Shizuo considers himself pretty lucky if he can catch Izaya conscious and willing to contribute three words to a conversation with the man he’s been living with for nearly a year.

Never thought he’d miss Izaya’s smart-ass remarks as much as he does now.

He’s determined this time, though, and it looks like he might be in luck. It’s just past midnight, cold and snowing outside and Shizuo’s finally going to bed after hours of work and repetitive internet searches. He’s taken no for an answer lots of times, but he hopes on each and every occasion – now, too – that it’ll turn out different.

It’s thanks to those searches, of course, that he always knows what he should do – what Izaya should do – but all the flea ever does is lie around sleeping, crying, refusing to do anything go anywhere or even talk to Shizuo. Not now, he loves to say, but maybe later, Shizu-chan.

The room is dark save for the insufficient orange of the lamp on the bedside table. Izaya’s curled on his side, facing Shizuo with his hair tangled and just a little longer than Shizuo’s always been used to seeing it.

“Hey,” he greets Izaya’s still form.

The informant’s eyes slip open. He doesn’t smile.

“You knew I was awake,” he observes, barely audible and plainly disinterested.

“It’s getting pretty easy to tell,” Shizuo sighs, and Izaya turns away to hide the hurt in his expression. “Ah – hey, Izaya, I didn’t mean it like –”

“‘S okay,” Izaya murmurs. “I’m really useless like this, ne? It must be getting annoying.”

Then cheer the hell up, Shizuo wants to snap, but he knows it’s useless. Even getting Izaya angry is hard these days; the last time he acted on his impatience like that, Izaya wound up in tears – sobs shaking his thin frame, pale and crying and entirely inconsolable and Shizuo’s not about to try it again.

He smiles instead, warms Izaya’s shoulder with the palm of his hand and tells him not to worry. “I doubt you’d do the same for me,” he chuckles, “but I’ll probably never need you to, anyway.”

“Well, sorry,” Izaya snaps. He curls into a tighter ball, then, shrugs off Shizuo’s hand and sighs. “I’m not like this because I want to be, you know.”

“Duh,” Shizuo scoffs. He pulls Izaya’s hands away from his legs, easily destroying his self-made knot and forcing him to straighten out. Izaya, of course, looks upset but doesn’t bother to protest as he’s drawn into a tight hug, face pressed close to the curve of Shizuo’s neck so that his dark hair tickles the underside of the blonde’s chin.

He can feel Izaya breathing slowly and regularly down his shirt. That’s warm and alive and reassuring, maybe, but the rest of him is far colder than it should be.

Exercise regularly, they say, and at the very least that’d probably warm Izaya up. Do things you like – used to like – and Shizuo wouldn’t mind going with Izaya for a walk or dinner or a movie or anything if the idiot would only demonstrate the faintest glow of interest.

“You want,” he whispers, “I can get a bath ready for you.”

Izaya’s place is nice, after all – huge rooms, a sizable office – currently unused, of course – and a full bathroom with all the trappings of a luxury suite.

And Shizuo, he thinks. He’s here, too, and he was here even before the Orihara Izaya of rumor and twisted interest died.

Izaya sighs again.

“Shizu-chan,” he groans, “I’m too tired…”

Shizuo frowns and pulls his companion away to hold him at arm’s length from his chest. He maintains a firm grip on the thin jut of Izaya’s shoulders – sagging, now, because the look in Shizuo’s eyes must be pretty damn forceful and that has a way of upsetting Izaya.

“You’ve slept enough already,” he snaps.

“Shizu-chan…”

“They’re all acting like you’re really dead,” Shizuo mutters, out of the blue and Izaya instantly tenses up – wide-eyed-tears-glinting and the rise and fall of his chest quickens visibly beneath the soft gray of his T-shirt. “Everyone’s saying it – hell,” he sighs, “even Shinra’s having a hard time believing me. If you’d just agree to let him visit…”

“I can’t do that,” Izaya retorts bitterly, “and you know it, Shizu-chan.”

“Yeah,” Shizuo sighs, relaxing his grip and gliding his hands down to hold Izaya’s – cold, slender – fingers between his own. “But you said it yourself, right? You’re not like this ‘cause you wanna be.”

Izaya stares down at his hands in Shizuo’s. “Mm,” he agrees.

“I keep reading about stuff like this,” Shizuo explains.

“‘This,’” Izaya mutters. “What’s ‘this,’ Shizu-chan?”

“You know,” Shizuo sighs, but in almost five months now neither of them has ever put a name to it.

“Depression,” Izaya whispers, and then he laughs humorlessly. The sound is harsh, but it’s the first time in a while that Izaya’s gone even that far to express himself. (Of course, this is also the first time in a while that they’ve actually carried on a conversation for more than thirty seconds of monosyllabic answers and long sighs.)

Shizuo only nods. “You already know what you should do to get rid of it, right?”

“Take pills,” Izaya states.

“No – well, yeah, but,” Shizuo smiles somewhat sympathetically, “if you don’t want to go to a psychiatrist, we could always go out and do something together. Walk around, shop, eat, whatever. Just hanging out with Shinra and Celty’d probably help.”

It’s not the first time he’s offered, of course, but it’s a different approach every time.

“I don’t want to.”

“You will when you try,” Shizuo insists. “You know I’m not patient, anyway. I’ll fucking force you out of this bed.”

Izaya sighs. “Why?”

“Who cares why?”

Izaya shuffles his weight uncomfortably, sighs again and tries in vain to retrieve his hands from his lap. Shizuo tightens his grip, feels Izaya’s pulse speed up even more in his wrists and finally leans in to press a light kiss to Izaya’s forehead. With nowhere else to look, the informant glances back up at Shizuo.

“You’re so weird, Shizu-chan.”

“Says you.”

Izaya ignores the blonde’s words, squeezes his eyes and lips shut as tears threaten him again. “You don’t get it,” he sniffs. “I’m actually fine like this.”

“You’re not fine,” Shizuo growls, and with that he pulls Izaya effortlessly into his arms – one under the bend of the informant’s knees, the other holding his arms to his chest as his head is cradled by Shizuo’s shoulder. He stands, trips a little on the fallen corner of a blanket and goes still again to stare down at Izaya.

“They’ll all forget me,” Izaya whimpers, eyes open and red at the edges. “It’ll be like I never existed.”

Shizuo tilts his head so that Izaya’s lips loom close and soft and he kisses him again, gentle and then with increasing force. Maybe Izaya kisses him back or maybe it’s because he’s crying again, but the little push forward is enough for Shizuo.

“Izaya,” he whispers, breaking away, “you exist. People disappear, okay? And sometimes they come back.”

Orihara Izaya’s not dead yet, dammit.