Gone Before Dawn

BY : escapeasy
Category: > Durarara!! (?????!! Dyurarara!!)
Dragon prints: 234
Disclaimer: I do not own anything pertaining/related to Durarara!! and I’m not making any profit from this work.

[Original post date: February 2012]


Gone before Dawn

Shizuo has only just woken up, and yet, he's already pissed off.

All he can seem to do for some silent, seething minutes in the bright morning light is glare at the lonely cigarette dying on his nightstand. Less than half of it remains, the rest nothing but another ash pile in the black dish as what's left leaks a steady string of smoke that sways helplessly in the air. Shizuo can't even relish the thick scent lazily smogging around him, too aware that this cigarette was wasted on purpose by a man who doesn't even smoke (and is apparently uncaring of fire hazards). This is just another act of annoyance to rile Shizuo by getting under his skin without being present to do it – it's only because of this reason that he forces himself to close his dark eyes on the obvious taunt and rage burning at the tip of his cigarette.

It isn't his first time to be greeted this way upon waking, not that such a routine would lessen his anger, and he wishes he wouldn't succumb so easily to Izaya's instigations, but every single one of them burrows under his skin. The simple fact that Shizuo is so easily played into letting his self-control crumble in the first place by that smirking punk only unravels his temper all the more… However, in a way, the cigarette could be taken as a pleasant note rather than a rude gesture because it illustrates just how long ago Izaya left – except all it really says is that the irritating information broker is indeed long gone. It says that the evasive man managed to maintain his shamelessly perfect record by sneaking off before day broke without notice.

Shizuo doesn't even need to turn over or sweep his arm across the cold sheets to know he is alone.

It's the same thing every time, with or without the burning cigarette.

It really pisses Shizuo off…

A subdued snarl curls his upper lip at the rising heat of his temper just before there's a knock on his door – the fact that he can't even fume without being interrupted makes him want to…

No, must stay calm. He can't go trashing his own apartment… again.

Another hard knock and a familiar voice calling his name pries his eyes open to a squint and he stares at the shrinking butt of his smoke a second longer before snatching it up and placing it between his lips – no sense in letting what's left of it go to waste.

"Shizuo!" raps another knock.

"Yeah, yeah," he mutters to himself, pulling on the pair of pants he left on the floor last night, and skulks to the door, opening it to see Tom's sigh. "What do you want?"

"We've got work to do," Tom answers, not at all fazed by the taller man's aggressive greeting, and adjusts his glasses as his eyes roll over the naked chest in front of him as if his lenses are playing tricks on him.

Evidence of enjoyment is always visible after an encounter with Izaya, leaving Shizuo to look like he tangoed with some wild animal – perhaps there isn't much of a real difference between the two. His old friend might not be accustomed to the sight of mister tough guy here marred with scarlet scratches and bruising bite marks, but Shizuo has in fact accepted that he can't mate with a weasel and expect to come out of it unscathed. He can at least take comfort in knowing Izaya isn't without his own share of wounds when all is said and done.

"That time already…?" Shizuo yawns, letting his friend close the door behind them – he's not even sure he knows what day it is…

His apartment is a small space, essentially rounding out to one large room with only the bathroom closed off by a door near the entrance. The nightstand and his unkempt bed jutting into the middle of the room from the wall are the only real pieces of furniture aside from the single table and chair in the slim stretch of kitchen at the back, opposite the front door. Shizuo mostly just sleeps here anyway (unless he has company), and he doesn't bother to keep it extremely tidy. He's not a slob, but there might be a scatter of clothes or pile of dishes at any given time. Tom knows this well enough about Shizuo, so he doesn't even think twice about the stale, smoky smell when he steps through the threshold.

"You look like hell," he says slowly, crossing his arms and lifting his eyebrow as he watches the blond man shuffle through his small apartment to the kitchen; its large, uncovered window being the only illumination reaching across the room. "That callboy of yours visit you again?"

Shizuo merely hums in response, a carton of milk occupying his mouth.

Tom doesn't quite whistle as he shakes his head, "Who would've thought such a small guy can do so much damage? Err, uh…"—he stumbles over his voice at the flaming spear of those eyes stabbing him—"Anyway, we should get going. This guy we're after today just can't resist staying in one place for very long and I'd like to get him before he gives me the slip again."

"Got it," the temperamental body guard gruffly replies around the stub of his cigarette back in his lips as he steps over the line between carpet and tile. "I'll clean up, won't take long."

Tom rubs the back of his head, "Right. I'll just wait outside."

A fluff of smoke billows from Shizuo's mouth once he's all alone again, a tired exhale unfolding from his lips as he gazes unseeing at the faded red carpet beneath his feet for a moment. Just once, he wouldn't mind seeing a piece of clothing or some other trinket that doesn't belong to him forgotten on his floor, but that'll never happen – and then he thinks, well, he likes to not think too hard about why he thinks that.

He's definitely sick of reliving this morning; searching for reasoning and dignity after a night of sex he told himself he wouldn't agree to have again, not with that selfish bastard who only comes around when he wants to. Shizuo isn't nearly lonely enough to resort to this infrequent fling, and love isn't a word to be associated with that prick.

Right now, Shizuo is somewhere in the middle, stuck in the confliction of loathing and affection, but he isn't sure what that really means.

All he really knows is that this just has to stop.

.

.

Some relatively uneventful weeks pass before Shizuo crosses paths with Izaya again…

He's sitting on a roadside bench with his head lolling over the back, eyes closed behind his tinted glasses as he blows cigarette smoke straight up to the warm wash of sunset that's fading into the skyline. All around him is disserted as an approaching night threatens the streets of Ikebukuro with every shade of thug it has to offer, even keeping cars from rolling over the cement in front of him. The quiet crisping the air around him is soothing, more or less leaving his head empty in a mellow trance, focusing only on the pillows of smoke that inflate his lungs and the smooth strings that sail from his nose. There's quite simply nothing like kicking back at the end of a long day in smoky solitude…

But his solace is stolen when fingers suddenly thread up through his messy, blond hair, ruining his mood with a presence he knows before the owner of these digits can even reveal himself with speech.

"How nice it is to see you brooding here all alone, Shizu-chan." Izaya's cool, lulling voice laces right around Shizuo, constricting more than just his vexed nerves thanks to the alluring touch snaking slowly through his hair. He cracks open his eyes at the upside down face smirking at him, and already his blood is boiling – whether it's lust or wrath, it's hard to tell.

Perhaps it's just a lust for wrath, all things considered.

"Thought I smelled a rat," Shizuo darkly grouses, stiffly taking his head from Izaya's affection and puffing his cigarette with two fingers. "Looking for some cheese to nibble on?"

Those dirty hands reach Shizuo again, slowly sliding over his shoulders and down his chest, rubbing against him with persuasive pressure linked to the memories soaked into his skin. It's nothing short of maddening at how easily the familiar bedroom desires are rekindled with such a simple gesture.

He doesn't want it.

Not when he'll be left with nothing in the morning.

"You could say so," Izaya sultrily murmurs, lips sinking towards Shizuo's ear with his breath a haunting breeze ghosting through thick, shaggy hair. "I am rather famished…" Teeth bite the back of his ear – only sampling and not devouring like in bed, but they're still teasing the triggers they've ingrained into Shizuo's sensual senses.

"You think you can just come calling whenever you want and get a bite?" Shizuo tries to cut this intrusion away with the brusque razor of his voice, but it's too dull of a scrap for the impervious Izaya.

"Didn't realize I was interrupting something important." the cattily dismissive tone dressing Izaya's words is more than enough to reignite the embers of Shizuo's animosity; the tongue wiggling over his ear and the more-than-suggestive hands heavily petting his chest are just a special bonus.

Shizuo breaks away from the arousing arrest of Izaya's hands in a vehement vault off the bench, "Because my world revolves completely around you. Because I just can't live without you. Because I sit by the fucking phone day and night waiting, hoping, and praying that you'll call." He is ablaze like a rancorous rocket as he whirls around to face Izaya, wanting to explode right in that conceited face, channeling all of the bile churning his gut into what he knows is an over-reaction, even to his standards—

But to some slight satisfaction on Shizuo's end, Izaya's face does blank at first for a stunned second at the abrupt gear change but the sharpness returns quickly in the corners of his eyes and mouth, practically like it never vanished. Izaya brushes off the verbal assault in nonchalant steps around the bench with eye-contact that doesn't falter, only drifts from Shizuo in a flippant slide.

—"What do you think, that I'm your goddamn property? You think you can just borrow me and whenever you feel like it and then cast me aside until next time? You know what, Izaya, you can just piss off because I'm not indulging your selfishness anymore. You hear that? I'm done! Finished! Washing my hands completely of you!"

"It's just like Shizu-chan to be so dramatic and emotional." although Izaya's words pour sweetly from his lips, they sear Shizuo's skin like drops of acid. His knife appears with an unseen flick, letting him casually pick at his nails like he's never done before – of course, this is a signal that he's ready to throw down if the situation calls for it. "If you're not interested, then a simple 'no' will suffice," he utters breezily, not even bothering to share a gleaming eye.

That's right, they've fought before – their relationship is built on scuffles and battles, and nearly—no, every fight is because of Izaya. All it ever took were some smart words and condescending tones spilling from his triumphant smirk and Shizuo just about lost his own head. Izaya genuinely enjoyed the reactions he got from Shizuo, and even though Shizuo knew that, he couldn't stop himself from wanting to rip that stupid smile right off of that smug mug. Eventually things mellowed – or maybe the boys simply matured – and somewhere between then and now, their relationship involved less fighting and more… well…

A hissing sneer is scratching up Shizuo's throat as he consciously cools his temper – the disapproving look from little brother is an effective extinguisher – and considering there is never a real winner when he fights Izaya, a tussle would be pointless (or so he tells himself). He takes the short fuse of that wrath and balls it up into one fist, closing his eyes and inhaling a deep relaxer from the ashy cigarette between the fingers of his other hand before aiming his flaming eyes at Izaya's like the tip of a gun, noting the haughty lift of one eyebrow.

"Listen up, because I won't be saying this again." Shizuo's voice is surprisingly level, even to him, as the smoke floods thickly from his lips. "I don't want to see you around here anymore, you got that? No more of your casualconvenient encounters to take what you want because you'll get no more free cheese from me. If I see your rotten face lurking around my streets again, so help me, I'll send you into orbit!"

Izaya's lips release a sardonic huff, "Your streets?"

Of everything, that's what Izaya latches to? It really shouldn't be so surprising…

Or infuriating.

The effortless goading unfurls all that knotted rage in Shizuo's hand and he wastes no time in aggressively grabbing Izaya's shirt like a fish chomping on bait – and the shorter male is of course neither provoked nor intimidated by the hostility.

"First and last warning," Shizuo barks, their noses only a breath apart. "And only because I'm feeling nice. Now scram before I make you eat pavement!"

Izaya is already rolling his eyes before he's unceremoniously shoved away, "It's a shame to let all that passion go to waste, but if you so insist," his feet fluidly taking the unintentional launch into a calm, measured stride as he pockets his knife, turning his back to the taller man. "You know, you're so theatrical, you could've been an actor…" A crooked croak creaks from him as he points a snide smile at Shizuo over his shoulder, "But then, I suppose, we can't have two thespians in the family, can we?"

Inability to control.

That's how Izaya always gets exactly what he wants from Shizuo – including sex.

It's so pathetic, but at least Shizuo knows he's willingly springing the trap when he pries that poor bench up from the ground and lividly lunges it right at that fucking degenerate.

Izaya's dodge was expected. The wave and gracious smile given to Shizuo in return? Not so much.

"Ta-ta, Shizu-chan!" rings the laughter of one extremely prideful information broker as he skips down the road. "We really should do this again sometime!"

Yeah… over Izaya's dead body.

.

.

How all of this began feels like such a blur now, everything bleeding into this cycle of Izaya coming and going that Shizuo isn't quite certain how much time has really passed. He remembers it was after their teenage years; both of them became adult enough to remain in the same general area and still be civil – or at least not create total destruction of said area. Although Shizuo was still disgusted with Izaya's existence altogether, he owed it to his brother to watch his temper and not let that little vermin push his buttons and cause a meltdown.

Shizuo was still fresh at his new bartending job at the time and was coasting along pretty well. He hadn't lost his temper yet, or in other words, hadn't tossed a customer out on their annoying ass even with the many opportunities or broken any private property. He was still free of any warnings and on the good side of management, for the most part.

That's when Izaya strutted through the door.

Shizuo knew it was only a matter of time when the little punk would slink into his bar and cause trouble – and not just because Izaya makes it his business to know everyone else's business – but he wasn't going to give Izaya the pleasure. Not this time.

His arch nemesis sat down at the bar with that permanent smirk drawn on his lips, ordered a drink and, to Shizuo's total and faith-flipping surprise, did absolutely nothing. He sat there quietly – politely – the whole evening, sipping his drink and tapping away on his cell like Shizuo wasn't even there – and even that pissed him off a lot more than he wanted to admit. Izaya still grinned mischievously, even chuckled complacently under his breath from time to time, but that was it. Shizuo was forced to stand there and more or less watch the performance because it was a slow night in the bar; his nerves were jumpy, waiting to backhand the informant right off his stool if only to save his own ass from that damned flick blade. Instead, all Shizuo got was a generous tip and a half-smile when Izaya picked up camp and strode off back onto the streets.

Shizuo didn't know how he should have taken that – was it an insult? Would it be one of those moments he'd reflect on in the future and think he would've saved humanity a lot of trouble if he had turned the bar upside-down on Izaya's regal act then and there? Shizuo won't ever say he's paranoid when it comes to Izaya, regardless of how much it seems like he is, because Izaya is never exactly as he appears on the surface. Shizuo drags behind him the dirty trail of petty crimes framed on him and random, idiotic gang hits all on Izaya's behalf to verify just how not paranoid he is.

So when Izaya continued waltzing into the bar as a recurring customer, Shizuo had half a mind to just accept his impulse by slaying Ikebukuro's devil – lucky for him the other, saner half of his mind knew better and let it simply be. He served Izaya his damn drinks and put up with his damn attitudes, but never took any of his lavish tips.

That lowlife could keep his filthy money.

.

.

Only a few days go by until Shizuo sees that snake slithering around the streets of Ikebukuro.

Although, instead of just stirring up trouble, he seems to be stirring up the hormones of some uniform-clad high school kid – not only is he blond, but he's younger, shorter, and much less intimidating than Shizuo. It's a replacement if Shizuo has ever seen one.

"…That really pisses me off," grumbles Shizuo's rising temper.

Tom's attention is caught by one eyebrow as he raises it at his friend, following that solid glare to the deserving irritant.

Izaya has his arm around the kid's shoulders and that smirk of his close to the boy's ear as he undoubtedly corrupts a youthful mind with his candy-coated voice that will rot any unsuspecting – or even a suspecting – soul from the inside out.

"…Always walking around like he owns the damn place," Shizuo's eyes are narrowed on the pair that are down and across the street, walking towards him.

"Hey, Shizuo…" Tom tries to redirect, his mild voice and jaded eyes already aware that he isn't really being heard.

Izaya really has some fucking nerve to be trotting around a new toy like this.

Is he asking for trouble?

"…Always only thinking of himself." Shizuo takes the lit cigarette from his lips, suspending it in the air for a moment of concentration on the ire throttling his fragile tolerance.

"Ignore it, man." Tom keeps trying, vainly, but he can't stand here and do nothing. "You know he's only trying to antagonize you."

Trying?

No, Izaya is very much succeeding in that respect.

It's one thing to take advantage of Shizuo's lapse in judgment, but it's another thing entirely to rub his face in his defiance like a misbehaved pet.

"…Always really pissing me off." an emphatic flick of his cigarette punctuates the irate sneer of his words and the end of his very short fuse.

Tom can only let a light, exasperated breath seep past his lips as he rubs his forehead, completely prepared for the violent uprooting of an unfortunately placed nearby tree thanks to Shizuo's easily angered hands. His furious growl rolls into a roar as he hauls the tree up above his head, leaves fluttering and clumps of dirt shattering against the concrete as people scatter from the freakishly brawny lunatic.

"IZAYA~!" Shizuo bellows, his wavy battle cry thundering down the road and zapping Izaya's eyes into immediate attention. Amusement strikes his features at the sight of Shizuo's dramatic distress, but once the tree spears through the air, right at his head, Izaya flees faster than a cockroach to a light switch – subsequently leaving the boy bewildered and alone on the curb.

As far as Shizuo is concerned, the kid is better off.

.

.

Surprisingly, Shizuo hasn't caught a whiff of that scum since he tossed that tree close to a month ago – although Izaya's absence running this long isn't unusual. It still solidifies something strange in Shizuo's gut like that time he swore his meal from Russia Sushi was trying to come back to life in his stomach hours after consumption. Queasy isn't quite the right word, though. Uneasy, maybe. He never likes to think Izaya is only off regrouping or recovering – but then, why should he care so much?

Because that annoying, little man never leaves Shizuo alone (for too long, anyway). That's why.

Every cigarette he breathes to ash does little to smother the unsettled dancing of his stomach as he finds himself constantly scanning through faces in the crowds of Ikebukuro. He tells himself he's only searching to make sure the pest doesn't go unnoticed, that he hopes he won't see that bastard's face and make a big scene for nothing. Yet, the less and less his eyes see of Izaya, the more pissed off he gets.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. Shizuo kicks Izaya's ass out on the literal street, so he shouldn't be diligently – anxiously – looking for him like a chipmunk desperately trying to remember where he buried his food. Empty searches should please him not anger him, but this only makes him feel more used than when Izaya hung around him in the first place. Of course, it's not as though he expects Izaya to come crawling back to him, either.

Shizuo thinks of that young kid that was trapped in Izaya's web, wondering what poison he's pumping into the kid's ears, and the half-hearted notion that he should intervene to save the boy rumbles from his lips from time to time. He doesn't act on the impulse, however, rational enough to know the idea is irrational (and desperate). He just doesn't like the thought of being replaced so easily, like he was never really needed or ever important. Just another one of Izaya's fools.

What could piss him off more than that?

.

.

It was something that didn't make sense at first, not to Shizuo who would have rather gut the man alive, but Izaya has a way with… well, getting his way. It never ceases to amaze Shizuo how distorted the world looks through Izaya's eyes, but it does amaze him how he bought into the reality being sold to him. Izaya never let a little suspicious skepticism stop him from obtaining whatever his grubby heart desired, which was Shizuo – and even that was probably just because Shizuo was the only one that resisted Izaya so gravely and severely. Shizuo just plain didn't like the guy, and as far as he could tell, that feeling was more than mutual.

But Izaya became a regular patron of the bar and there was little Shizuo could do about it other than threaten the man on his off hours, but that had never worked for him once, ever.

This time was no exception.

Shizuo was at least allowed to vent a little of his bottling belligerence when numerous attacks attempted on Izaya called him into action. He had the pleasure of escorting the would-be brawlers by way of his foot to their asses, but Izaya was always there, beaming with self-satisfaction that shed a considerable amount of light on the situation. Izaya was responsible for every heated reaction aimed at him – which consisted of the company he brought or just other drinkers trying to mind their own business – and he reveled in the fact that Shizuo was always there to protect him. Although it was more than obvious that Izaya was behind every damn instigation, Izaya never lifted a threatening finger, and so was innocent by all accounts. Shizuo didn't like it and that only made Izaya all the more pleased with himself.

The strange part of it all was Izaya's persistent friendliness – not that he'd actually sell such an act, only that he targeted Shizuo as a customer – but sure enough, it affected Shizuo like a strange illness. Back then it felt more like he was growing immune to the parasitic broker as all the time banked together watered his fiery nerves, but that was probably just wishful thinking on his part. Izaya really played nice after a while, trying to slip under the radar regardless of Shizuo's eagle eye, not even bringing up his little brother to spur combat. All Shizuo was given were orders for drinks which brought one-sided conversations with Izaya doing the talking and Shizuo doing the suppression of his murderous impulses.

It was something that didn't appeal to Shizuo at all, at first, but Izaya is one sly son-of-a-bitch, he'll say that much. Soon enough it all fell into a routine that made each day more bearable than the last, and before Shizuo even saw it coming, he and Izaya were exchanging more than flying fists and cutting knives. He only saw Izaya's face in the bar and nowhere else, which in turn made him appreciate the constant patronage all the more. Their chatting trickled from meager greetings that pooled as stiff statements until they overflowed into casual discussions – none of which involved any hot-button issues for Shizuo. This mannerly version of Izaya was alien but blended nicely with Shizuo's newfound life of steady employment and low blood-pressure.

In the end, when Shizuo lost that bartending job and it didn't have a damn thing to do with Izaya, he only had himself to blame.

After being banned from the bar that night, Shizuo had wandered the streets a little, walking and smoking away his stress while trying to pummel the guilt brought on by the somber memory of his brother's pleading expression to make that job his last. Disappointment was too small a word to properly define what he really felt and he didn't bother trying to label it accordingly – failure was failure, simple as that. The only break in his simmering stalking around the vacant city streets was Izaya who seemed to have stepped out of thin air with his half-smirk and lofty words. Shizuo was in no mood for playful banter or some other such bullshit and tried to shake the start of something nasty, but Izaya being Izaya wouldn't let anything be.

In fact, the information broker had kissed him at that time.

Izaya was striding on the metal barrier, on the line between street and sidewalk, balancing with the effortless and seamless grace of a tightrope walker while following Shizuo like an annoying gnat. He caught Shizuo's cigarette-holding hand when he tried to turn away from the instigation, carefully grasping with fingers too gentle for comprehension. Despite being linked at that moment, Shizuo felt estranged like he was glimpsing an alternate reality as he looked into the foreign glimmer in Izaya's eyes for a second before tender lips planted on his. The action was as quick as Izaya is with his blade that Shizuo didn't even see the landing, only felt the deafening thudding of his heart in his ears. His entire body froze, reflexes dulled and scrambled as his mind raced to catch up with the soft press of lips he couldn't quite respond to. Izaya broke away before Shizuo's brain could reconnect with anything other than the sight of a growing grin on the dark-haired man's face when he pulled away.

Shizuo was towed by his wrist behind Izaya afterward like a caboose on a train, too stunned from the inexplicably sweet kiss that kicked him in the head to put up much of a fight – it was the first time Izaya had such an effect on Shizuo.

He just wasn't sure of what to do.

.

.

Shizuo forces himself to stop looking after another couple of weeks sneak up behind him and hop on his back like a monkey, smacking his head with frustration and a reality that he's trying to ignore.

He tells himself he should be happy.

He only gets used to being alone instead – something that used to suit him just fine because most people… most people just rub him the wrong way. Izaya was the worst, obviously, but he's also one of few people who have been in his life for such a long time, with whom he shares a history, an intimacy. The only person he wanted to both kill and fuck all in the same day, or even at the same time.

Some truly messed up shit.

Shit he'd be better off without but can't forget.

Shizuo isn't stupid, he's acknowledged his jealousy and what being jealous means. He wishes he hadn't let Izaya attach to his chest like a leech where sucking him – his heart – dry is all too easy, but Shizuo hadn't thought it was possible for Izaya, of all people, to reach that deeply inside him.

Izaya is the man Shizuo loved to hate and, he's realized, hates to… not hate.

Everything would've been fine had they not played with the line between—no, if he hadn't let Izaya manipulate their relationship. They had the right balance before, perhaps not the safest, but what was in the natural order of things. Shizuo still doesn't know how he allowed everything to be warped and sculpted into this stagnant farce of a fling (because he underestimated Izaya, probably), but he sure as hell knows how he can end it.

Assuming his obstinacy doesn't wither before Izaya's…

.

.

Sure enough, Izaya's rotten face appears in Ikebukuro, again – months later, but it's only a matter of time before the trash blows back into town.

Shizuo is lighting up a cigarette between his lips as he steps out of Russian Sushi one clear evening, the flaming bliss inflating his lungs on that first puff is fleeting when he catches a familiar high school kid and, more importantly, his companion.

There is a small, brief window of time where Shizuo is standing still, contemplating very carefully while submerged in his homicidal urges upon seeing Izaya's face and hearing the arrogant sail of his voice. All other sounds and smells are sucked from his senses as if he's staring at a movie screen and he idly wonders if this is one of those "out of body" experiences as he casually smokes on his thoughts. He's already decided that he'll no longer waste the energy on this pathetic excuse of a human being, so he figures he should walk away before the temptation bubbles in his veins and he can't control himself. He wants to leave, to not give Izaya any more pleasures than he already has, but deciding and doing are two different actions. It isn't as though the mere sight of Izaya doesn't still rattle Shizuo's bones with revulsion and he honestly doesn't know if he can resist trying to plant that smirk as far beneath the Earth's crust as (in)humanly possible.

Simon would be a good deterrent, if he wasn't conveniently absent from the moment. The man hates violence just as much, if not more so, as Shizuo but actually happens to harbor the ability to stop Shizuo dead in his tracks, maybe even send Izaya on his way in the process. After all, Izaya never tangles with Simon – then again, no one willingly does if they're smart. All they've got between them instead is this teenager who probably doesn't even know how in over his head he already is just by knowing Izaya, and he certainly isn't a burly Russian.

The information broker is smiling like always, only it's a little more understated than usual, and his eyes are bright like a child's – but not the innocent variety found in candy stores. Shizuo can't hear their exchange but he figures he's probably better off not knowing because there's a sticky, stubborn pride that has his feet glued to the ground. It's a swelling feeling in his chest, fluffing hotter than the smoke in his lungs when Izaya's eyes finally swing in his direction—

As much as Shizuo doesn't want to be roped into any more games or tricks, he needs to do something – preferably something to mess with Izaya's head like he does so easily and carelessly with countless others (like he has with Shizuo). Shizuo realizes it's near impossible to permanently keep Izaya out of Ikebukuro in spite of his very best efforts, so he'd at least like to give this rat something to chew on for a while.

—Those smirking lips stop moving, seeming to give Shizuo undivided attention – a predator waiting to strike, in reality. Even the boy curiously turns towards Shizuo, an instant shock of remembrance (in the form of a tree flying in his general direction, no doubt) warily blinking his eyes as a silent stare locks between two of the most dangerous men in Ikebukuro.

Shizuo isn't really sure how long they stand here in their muted stare-down but he knows it isn't as long as it feels and that everything around them doesn't really slow to a crawl like he perceives. The world might feel as though it's shrinking around them, right down to their gaze, but the sensation is nothing more than human-born conceit. In the grand scheme of things their bullshit is just that: bullshit. It's insignificant, unimportant, bullshit, and that peels some pressure from Shizuo's raging heart.

In a second his world is revolving once again and as if to say "you're not worth it," he takes a step into the flow of time. He doesn't spare another glance once he's set on his path, doesn't look to see just what type of grin Izaya's lips are wearing, if they're wearing one at all, although they probably are. He just moves forward, as difficult as that really is, leaving Izaya and all that anger behind him for the first time since they've met.

Shizuo is almost certain he feels Hell freezing underneath his feet as goes, though.

.

.

The memory of the first time they slept together still fades into that hotel room, into the dim, city light glowing from the uncovered window as Shizuo's naked back was pressed against the bed. Somewhere in the creaking coils of that mattress, his weakened judgment was beaten and stripped from him, buried underneath their clothes on the floor while he lied vulnerable to an appetite he never should have known. That night he learned the lines of Izaya's lean body like he never should have and his palms would never forget every angle they caressed, no matter how much or hard he tried after the fact. It would be a memory to aid the withdrawals that pushed him farther down this slippery slope of sex and loathing.

But what Shizuo clearly remembers the most from that night are Izaya's lips. They didn't hypnotize Shizuo with any beguiling words or wrap him in a net of romance, but their smile was a disturbing constant even as they pressed against his chest, neck and face. They kissed him like a lover might while teeth bit him like an enemy would, and the taste of blood did little to divert his attention. His mind sank completely down Izaya's mouth when he wasn't lost on it hovering over him as a smirk, taunting him like it always had.

Tormenting him in so many ways it never should have, Izaya dug deep into Shizuo that night like the quills of a porcupine. The damage only festered the more he consented to their affair and the more he tried to deny it or his changed feelings even existed. Shizuo will swear to the day he (or Izaya) dies that he hates no other thing on this planet as much as he does Izaya, but that couldn't and can't stop him from enjoying the way their friction sparks in bed.

As so very wrong as it was, there was just something about it that was so very right.

Why exactly he came to be naked in some strange room with Izaya that first time is a detail Shizuo would endlessly replay in his muddled memories but never quite find settling. As Shizuo liked to look at it, Izaya took advantage of his blue mood after being fired, lured him to that hotel, the bar, then the room, and from there things are a clichéd haze of alcohol and restless emotions. He never started trusting Izaya, not once and never will, but, perhaps, adults will be adults. Sex didn't particularly mean anything to Shizuo and he suspected that Izaya was the same – an animal like him? Love must be a curse to anyone he gives it to. Shizuo himself had never been in love before, wasn't the romantically-driven type, and there was always something distinctly challenging in Izaya's advances that maybe things just fell into place with Izaya there to push them. Did they simply take the battle to the bedroom? Shizuo won't say that's the right way to look at it because that's the one place they never fought.

If anything, it's the one place they united.

That's why it screwed with Shizuo's head so severely.

.

.

Shizuo expected to see Izaya again – he'd be a fool to think otherwise – but he didn't expect to be greeted by that self-serving smirk when he comes home a few nights after the sidewalk snub. Izaya has seated himself quite comfortably at the table in the kitchen strip of the apartment, reclining proudly in the chair with his feet propped up on the table and crossed at the ankles – and of course, he's still wearing his shoes…

There are too many annoyances for Shizuo to properly process that it all virtually cancels out into nothing. He blandly falls into precarious neutrality, almost opting to completely ignore the deviant as he moves through his apartment, but ignoring Izaya is near impossible and not just because he doesn't allow anyone the luxury when it's truly wanted. Even so, Shizuo has to maintain his cold shoulder otherwise he'll only be ensnared by the hooking weakness all over again that likes to puncture his heart.

Shizuo makes it to the line between carpet and tile, wearing the sturdiest stone-face he can muster while unsure if his eyes are as cool and mellow as he wishes them to be.

"Say whatever you have to say then get out," Shizuo austerely orders, his tone a brittle winter wind.

Izaya's eyes are glittering, even in the dark, and complacency traces one sharp, upturned corner of his smiling lips.

"And what is it you think I want to say?"

"No," Shizuo sternly states, standing firmly on his resolve. "Either spill it or leave. There will be no discussion."

An arrogant pop of one eyebrow, "I see." Izaya weaves his fingers together, noticeably shifting for more comfort as he rests his conjoined hands on his lap. "And are you going to make me leave if I don't comply?"

Of course Shizuo won't – this is his home, not some impromptu arena for their always destructive skirmishes. Shizuo isn't an empty-headed buffoon regardless of how overpowering his killing urges become and he isn't willing to risk his homestead for a twerp. Izaya definitely knew this, too; that's why he's been waiting patiently in the dark like someone left him a key under the doormat. And even if Shizuo chooses to destroy his own apartment, that's not Izaya's problem.

"Why are you here? Don't you have that schoolboy to entertain you?" Shizuo dismissively mumbles, tugging at his tie as he plops down on the foot of his bed with a slight sag to his posture – a veritable slip in his composure, but not an admission of defeat.

"Him?" Izaya's voice is saccharine but mocking. "He's only a side project – and it's nothing sexual, if that is what you're implying."

Side project, huh?

That doesn't make Shizuo the main event, does it?

It certainly makes Shizuo feel stupid and ashamed about envying some dumb kid out of pure delusion – not that he'll admit that out loud.

"You weren't jealous, were you?" laughter is hanging at the end of Izaya's voice as if waiting to pounce at just the right moment that never actually comes.

Shizuo chooses to ignore that question, obviously, sighing heavily instead underneath an oppressive weight pushing down on and closing around him – a vice grip re-claiming him, perhaps – as he focuses on cleaning smudges from his glasses with his loose tie. The hinting claustrophobia strengthens when he feels Izaya slink onto the bed, rolling towards him like a boulder, and touches his shoulders just like he had that evening Shizuo spurned him for the first time…

"You're sweet to worry, Shizu-chan," the familiar sound of that calm voice dipped in sugar is nothing but a devious apparition, surrounding Shizuo as Izaya leans flush against his back and delicately takes the tinted glasses from hands that vied for distraction, "but you really shouldn't…"

…And just like that evening, Izaya brings with him the plague of memories that ripple over Shizuo's skin in chilling bumps and fractures his mind at the husky murmur in his ear and the confining circle of arms around him. Izaya's seduction is tightening around Shizuo like a noose, but instead of feeling weak to the lips pecking his neck or helpless to the fingers unbuttoning his clothes, Shizuo is enraged. Izaya's audacity is far from astounding, but if repetition tempered Shizuo in the slightest he wouldn't be spending the majority of his life in the bottomless trench of his rage. Shizuo is just plain pissed at the big picture, at the feelings creeping up through his veins thanks to Izaya's touch, that Izaya has this effect, and how it all came to be this way. He hates that the idea of fighting only seems more and more fruitless with every passing heartbeat. He hates that his will is just as strong as the temptation. He hates that he wants to surrender.

He hates himself as much as he hates Izaya.

Shizuo hates that he feels trapped – like his king was cornered in check-mate from the start and all he can do is wait to be claimed. Shizuo is certainly apt to fight on par with his enemy forever, but he just wants peace, and he'll never get it as long as Izaya is still breathing. What would it really take to rid himself of Izaya altogether? If Shizuo knew the answer to that, his problem would've been solved a long time ago. Violence certainly hasn't been working even in the face of his monstrous power and now sex is just some other twisted game they play, so what options are left for Shizuo? Is he really forced to dance this dangerous tango with Izaya until one of them just drops dead?

How did Izaya obtain so much power?

When did Shizuo become so soft?

Why did things have to turn into this?

Engulfed in the burgeoning typhoon of spite, Shizuo loses that saner half of his mind, feeling it fray in Izaya's fingers as he dismantles the tie, vest, and shirt adorning the blond's torso – that bartender getup meant to encourage, but is now only worn with guilty sentiment. It all falls to the floor like every time before, taking with it inhibitions that should never, ever slide out of Shizuo's grip, and he turns on Izaya once the goose bumps finally root to his volatile lusts. Shizuo hits Izaya fast and hard with a kiss as he twists onto the bed, their lips harshly mangling like the metal of two cars in a traffic collision – tender loving never suited them, but this time Shizuo is more incensed than excited. He doesn't particularly have any aims in this moment except to vent his anger on the person who lit the fire, and he doesn't expect this time to be the last.

He's been lying to himself for too long to believe that.

All Shizuo can do is guide his red-hot resentment into this physical outlet that's a lot less destructive, and before he gives himself a heart-attack.

All Shizuo can do is fight with Izaya's fervor as clothes are heedlessly ripped from bodies in an impatient rush.

All Shizuo can do is seethe like he's never done before.

Izaya attacks like an animal as he always has, not giving Shizuo a single second to catch a breath or thought once they're completely nude and shuffling on the bed, determined to get the larger man on his back like he fancies. This is one thing Shizuo actually finds pleasing about Izaya; the way their tenacity and decisiveness matches in the one place it should is quite literally orgasmic. The sex has always been faultless and is the only aspect of their relationship that actually functions properly in that both parties are satisfied to the fullest extent. If it had been subpar, neither of them would've had a real reason to continue their contradiction with such… dedication—

But Shizuo tries to keep his mind in his vengeful brewing and Izaya's pawing hands rather than dunking it into the fondness for what was – here and now is what it all earned him, and it's not something to be proud of. He knew from the start this was a bad idea, but only now does he really understand why.

At any rate, Shizuo refuses to appease him this time, his mouth ruthless against Izaya's with his teeth scraping and pulling at the plumping lips of the smaller man in his callous clutches. His hands are grabbing and gripping wherever they can like it keeps him in gravity's – reality's – hold, positively pleased they will leave marks on Izaya's light skin come morning. Perhaps in retaliation, Izaya has him by a fistful of hair, wrenching the flaxen fibers as he pleases and lobs one lean leg over Shizuo's thighs while his other hand becomes a tempting torch that blazes down a smooth stomach. Shizuo's gut tightens when those soft, teasing fingertips skate over his awakening arousal, clinging to his bitterness that's beginning to dissolve like an ice cube to the burning in his loins as a hand securely cups his testicles.

Indulgence impairs Shizuo's willpower for a heavy moment, cascading over him in feverish currents of pleasure he tried to forget he could feel. Izaya is dousing Shizuo's senses with calculated precision, bathing his mind in the firm groping of fingers that are dilatory but diligent on his sensitive flesh. Carefully they cradle him, rubbing and squeezing with pressure that spikes and wanes, just the way Shizuo likes – sweet and sour at the same time – as if trying to lose him in a tide that will cleanse him of his grudge. It's like he can feel Izaya leak through the tight cracks he thought – hoped – he had sealed around himself as his consciousness lolls and rolls in Izaya's palm like a marble.

When Izaya loosely curls his fingers around a full, flushing erection, Shizuo shudders and it brings his head above water where he finally sees the smirk lurking right in front of his eyes like the fin of a shark slicing through an ocean's surface. Shizuo doesn't even blink at the sight of this slightly sadistic smile, but he does wonder if he could punch this beast in the nose to free himself like he's heard regarding those aquatic hunters. He's very close to testing this theory when the tugging sensation wrapped around his hard length reminds him just how long it's been since the last time he got this kind of attention from anyone – not an excuse for this, just a fact. That Izaya was that last time only rebuilds the raging storm in Shizuo's head over the swarming of his hormones as they chase his heart into his cock. The throbbing heat pilling up at his crotch is demanding, annoying Shizuo like it shouldn't be there, but the tantalizing squeezes of Izaya's groping hand convinces his body otherwise. While Shizuo's nerves are ignorant and careless of everything as they flourish like a blistering riot under his skin and twitch in his eager erection, Shizuo's brain knows better.

Izaya is trying to play him; setting his eyes aglow in their lusty gloss as he gently entwines his fingers in the hair on Shizuo's nape and share the same calm breath in the small gap between their lips like they're in the midst of something sweet and special. Although the smirk is always a dead give-away, this act isn't what has Shizuo's blood draining from his head – his penis is getting touched, so of course he's getting dizzy with pleasure. That's not anything unique to Izaya. The problem is how self-satisfied he is about it, riding his own high over the control he thinks he has over Shizuo after so much struggling. Izaya is gloating and flaunting this right in Shizuo's face as he pumps his hand up and down the stiff shaft that he brought to life and thumbing over the slick residue that he produced.

It's during the light, playful kisses Izaya begins placing on his lips that Shizuo decides the foreplay has gone on long enough.

Shizuo takes the luring kiss with an open mouth as he promptly flips himself over like a flapjack, flopping on top of Izaya in a somewhat graceless sprawl of limbs but he's able to pin the smaller man down with his hips nonetheless. Izaya turns feral once he's trapped underneath Shizuo's stronger body, clawing fiercely at Shizuo's back and jerking his legs as he nips at the invasive tongue trying to catch his. Regardless of how it might seem, this isn't a tantrum fit on Izaya's part, only the typical response to any direction Shizuo decides to take and Shizuo is always a mirror to the abuse. Except this time he's blindly reaching for Izaya's paw instead, clutching a thin wrist like a bear-trap and slamming it to the bed, followed quickly by the other one, while thoroughly ravaging Izaya's mouth as roughly as those snapping teeth allow. He only parts from Izaya when his lungs overpower him, and the second he starts sucking in air he sees something that's redundant at this point.

Izaya is smirking at him; it's sinister and seductive at the same time with the wild glaze on his eyes and lips as his chest breathlessly bounces. There's just that splash of arrogance that fuels Shizuo's aversion to the man – not that it's anything new, it's just never particularly bothered him so much until now after all he's expressed.

In the current context, that smirk might as well be a slap to the face.

He chooses to take it as an invitation – challenge – to begin thrusting shallowly against the hard flesh between Izaya's legs that grew all on its own, feeling the dark-haired man's lower half tighten under him and watch his eyes narrow. Indeed they don't break their confident stare even when Shizuo grinds over him in another coarse heave of hips; he only deepens his smirk when his body waves with Shizuo's instigating motion. Shizuo moves again and again, his sensibility slowly sinking under the rising level of his frustrated temper at more of Izaya's blatant baiting—

But then, there's a small wisp of something, a chuckle, quickly followed by another, louder pop as Shizuo continues to carefully rub their wet erections together and before he knows it, giggles are tumbling freely from Izaya's lips. These tickled romps trample whatever was left of Shizuo's patience, causing his mental snap to crack like a gunshot in the musty air of his small apartment and spur him to barrel through the floodgates with a snarl as he reaches for one of Izaya's knobby hips with one hand. He ensures his grips are cemented in merciless holds as his thrusting turns rigorous with irritation against the man below him, trying to deafen his ears on the sound of what he deems to be mad laughter cackling from Izaya's throat.

This is certainly a first. A very disturbing first. That's why all Shizuo can really think to do is clog the leak with his own mouth. Izaya doesn't bite back, surprisingly, but the humming of his own amusement still resonates in his throat as stifled chortles. Shizuo can feel them vibrate on his tongue as he closes his eyes to focus on the jolting pleasure pulsing in his cock as he rocks his hips, absorbing the sensation of their steamy skin slipping and sliding in delightful friction; although there's a bit of sting to the mounting bliss because they're dryer than they'd normally be. It's enough of an unpleasant burn to have Shizuo's body pause so his hand can unhinge from Izaya's hip and reach for the drawer of his nightstand, fingers fumbling for the trusty tube of lubricant until he breaks from Izaya's lips to actually see what he's doing and refresh his oxygen supply. Both of their breaths weigh heavily between them, Izaya's subdued chuckles spurting out in soft, scattered huffs as Shizuo flips the cap of the bottle he finally found and squeezes out what little is left.

He can hear a subtle hiss spray from Izaya's lips when the icy gel melts on their hot erections, his free hand clenching Shizuo's shoulder when the slippery substance is smeared over them in noisy strokes. Shizuo slides his fingers tightly around their shared excitement, the convulsing tingles of pleasure pulling his hips forward and back over Izaya again in fluid waves of his body that flow into the vigor he previously held. As his pace increases, his mind darkens to the sight of a faint, upward bend on Izaya's lips that might as well be a permanent fixture on his face, only seeing the tip of his climax on the back of his eyelids. He doesn't even catch the warm brush of pink that pinches Izaya's cheeks when his cringes under the raining sensation of sparkling ecstasy, instead noting Izaya's nails imbedding deeper and deeper into his skin as they climb to heaven together – not that Shizuo honestly cares about Izaya's satisfaction.

Not anymore.

He grips and grinds Izaya's length against his own because he likes the feeling – why should Izaya be the only one to get what he wants all the damn time without regard for others? Shizuo likes to think of himself as a fair man, just not right now as he lets the hammering of his heart in his cock and his jerking hand take complete control. They drag his brain through the building dust of his orgasm until it surges him in a fast, hard flash that yanks all of that negative energy right out of his body in a hot burst. It streaks Izaya's skin but lingers in Shizuo's hips, making them jittery as they ride downhill from his peak in involuntary ticks that ease his straining muscles and tease his spent, sensitive flesh with his own hand. Shizuo vaguely feels another release disconnected from him spill past his fingers before he falls onto his back as a boneless mass, the light fading from his eyes as darkness consumes him once more, hollowing his skull…

.

.

The scent of cigarette smoke strokes Shizuo's senses into waking, foggily wrapping its fuzzy fingers around his mind and squeezing him from a dreamless sleep right into a reality reeking of loneliness. It's a wonder he continues to smoke with this unsavory association building over his head thanks to Izaya, but he isn't about to let that ingrate steal another thing from him…

Shizuo sighs deeply and considers waiting for the tide of sleep to sweep over him again, but something doesn't feel quite right – a strange presence prickling the back of his neck like a whisper. Maybe it's instinct, maybe it just drowsy delusion, either way Shizuo peels his eyes open to not see a cigarette burning on his nightstand – even after blinking and rubbing his eyes for crystal clarity – and the gnawing feeling on his back evolves into alarm. He strains to look over his shoulder, holding whatever rational suspicion he can grasp, finding a naked weasel nested in his bed.

Astonishingly, said weasel is none other than Orihara Izaya.

He's lying rather contently on his back, one arm tucked behind his head as the other is raised in the air, his fingers gently twisting and pivoting the burning cigarette that woke Shizuo. On his lips is a mild smirk and his shadowy eyes are relaxed but focused on the smoke, not glancing even once at the groggy man gaping at him with a slight furrow in his brow. For a silent moment that's loud in Shizuo's ears, he can't figure out what kind of quiet angle Izaya is playing and is too lethargic to care. He rolls onto his back, pulling the thick, gray blanket covering their hips closer to his chest while scrubbing at his face with his other hand to gain some sense for the moment.

"Smoking is such a nasty habit," the grinning information broker casually says with a dramatic strum to his voice – his apparent acknowledgment to Shizuo's waking. "It serves virtually no purpose whatsoever except to cause harm. It hurts the smoker, the surrounding populace, and the environment. It is truly a habit for idiots who want to slowly kill themselves and everything around them with little effort. Selfish idiots." Contrary to his words, Izaya smiles at the lit stick he's holding in the air, a sneering curl of his lips that looks more like the rancid warp of moldy paint than a real smile. "Still, I guess I have to respect a company that can break the bank even with death on their side. Their revolving door of consumers who are too weak and stubborn to quit is truly disconcerting."

Shizuo only stares, his mouth not having forgotten how to talk under this morning surprise in his bed, just finding the function pointless. Realistically, it's more out of spitefulness that he doesn't want to speak – like Shizuo will give this jerk the pleasure of stupefied questioning about why he's still here after sunrise. It's obvious enough to Shizuo that he doesn't need to say anything – this speech about tobacco feels very metaphorical for the way they've been tangling all this time, too. Or maybe that's just Shizuo.

Still, he can't pinpoint exactly which part of his defiance kept Izaya from leaving this morning.

Izaya shrugs at his commentary before turning over towards Shizuo with a lazy grin, placing the near-empty astray on the blond's flat stomach and offering the cigarette between his to two fingers in a lightly taunting gesture.

"I've decided I'll let you have one last smoke, so you better enjoy it while it lasts." Izaya is smirking like always, carrying his tone in the same airy way like always, but his eyes seem to have defrosted, softened – now Shizuo isn't so sure he's actually awake.

The arrogant decision making on his part notwithstanding, the declaration Izaya just made is… well, it's says more about his intentions towards Shizuo and their relationship than the actual habit of smoking. It's a promise, of sorts, for something solid between them from this point forward, and Shizuo isn't so dense that he can't recognize that – this is of course coupled with the fact that Izaya didn't just take and run before the sun rose like he's always done in the past.

Shizuo cautiously plucks the cigarette with one hand only to swiftly swipe his other arm around Izaya's neck, anchoring the man to his chest—

"…Shizu—?"

"Shut up," Shizuo grumbles under his breath, resting a heavy arm on bony shoulder blades, and sticks the cigarette between his lips.

He can hear Izaya huff out a single, soft chuckle before the surprise stiffening the skinny body in his hold relaxes against him with a head on his chest and the sensation of an uncontained smile stretching on his skin. Izaya stays quiet while Shizuo smokes, the two of them letting an imaginary conversation catch and carry in the silent clouds of his exhales and the light tapping of fingers on his chest – both of them content to not push buttons or bash skulls. After all these years of thrashing in the rocky seas of their relationship, they've finally found land, a common ground blotted in the middle of hate and love like the eye of a hurricane. Sure, Izaya beat around the bush with his guised admission of commitment and care, but it isn't as though Shizuo was expecting a love confession nor does he have any affinities to give one himself. Shizuo isn't even willing to think quite that far yet.

It might not be orthodox or make a whole lot of sense to outside observers but this right here is just their way: confusing and conflicting but connected. That's definitely more than many married couples can even say.

And for the first time in a long time, Shizuo doesn't feel pissed off.



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