Story index: Part I – Part II – Part III – Part IV – Epilogue
Rating: E – NSFW
Length: 35,700 words
Warnings: unplanned pregnancy, dysphoria, transphobia, difficult family relationships.
Aches Like Nothing
Namie noticed almost immediately, of course.
Izaya was never one of those they called well-endowed; his breasts were small, easily disguised under bras a size too tight and rendered to flatness when he bothered with a binder. He was fairly sure most people, even those who spent time around him, would not have made out the lack of any that day. But Namie was vicious, the soul of a stalker in the body of a criminal, so she did.
“Getting a little sloppy?” she remarked wryly. Her nose turned up in disgust as she leered at him, an expression not unlike those she made around him either way. Izaya often told her it was a waste of a perfect face. She often told him to shove it.
“Maybe,” he replied. He grabbed the file he had prepared for her on his desk and handed it over, and all the while his face stayed impassive, as smooth as he could make it even with unfamiliar pain flowering in his chest with every move he made.
He had tried putting on a binder that day. It had hurt so much he almost passed out from it.
It took her another two days to bring it up. Izaya had stopped trying to bind after the second attempt, had stood in the early morning darkness of his room in silence and stared at the soft sports bra in his hands with something akin to offense. Two days in a row weren’t enough to make him panic. He had suffered more at the hands of others, and for a longer time. Bruises happened on him sometimes days after the hits, pains made themselves known for no reason other than his brutal exertion of his own body after days spent hunched over computer screens—but this was different. This made no sense. Anxiety wasn’t panic, but it burned slow and crushing at the hollow of his stomach.
Namie said, “You haven’t asked me to buy pads for a while,” with suspicion as clear on her lips as glee.
Anxiety stopped and made way to panic.
“I’m not pregnant,” he told her. He wasn’t.
She made a small, dismissive noise. “No one is until the test says otherwise.”
“You do defend yourself harshly for someone who couldn’t possibly be,” she mocked airily. “Starting to feel scared? Did you have too much fun in the sack and forget the basics of not being an idiot? Here, I’ll tell you.” She stepped closer, leaned over the side of his chair in a mimicry of a confession. “It’s called condoms.”
For a second Izaya felt the need to grab her by the neck, to spit in her face the words he could feel bubbling up his throat. She looked at him in expectant delight, hands braced to parry blows and grab a pen to stab him with if need be. Izaya breathed in. His chest ached with it.
“I did use condoms,” he said slowly. Not that she needed to know about any of this. She made a face, as expected, and pulled away from him.
“I guess this is just karma, then,” she said. “Or are congratulations in order? Who’s the da-”
He slammed a hand on the table, used the pain and momentum of it to crush the trembling in his fingers and push himself to his feet. “You’re dismissed for today, Namie-san. Do enjoy stalking your brother and staying a virgin for the rest of your life.”
“Pathetic,” she commented uncaringly. “You think you can hurt me with this?”
He smiled at her. “At least my obsession reciprocates in kind.”
Izaya couldn’t be pregnant because he had bled three weeks ago, and because the last time he had let Shizuo fuck him was three weeks before that.
It was that simple.
With Namie gone he was free to lounge on his bed with his phone in hand and browse through medical forums. The results he found spanned from period pains to breast cancer, though, and none explained the suddenness of the pain or matched the causes he could have found around himself. It was hard to bring himself to call his doctor and harder still to dress for the appointment. Every intake of breath pushed against tight fabric, made hurt flare over his skin bright and overwhelming, made an otherwise tolerable nuisance into something all-encompassing.
It made him sluggish. It made him tense. It brought back to life the memories of wrongness he had so long overcome.
When he stepped out into the cold March wind, those memories didn’t feel as dead anymore.
Izaya’s doctor was one he had picked at random five years ago. She was a tall, severe-looking woman with pristine nails and a perpetual frown wrinkling her forehead. She greeted him that day with a curt nod, told him to strip and lay on the examination table without so much as a How are you?, and when her cold hands touched him it was with tough indifference.
She stayed unfazed by his winces throughout. When she pressed on his areolae Izaya flinched backwards, but the only caring she showed was through an immediate lightening of contact.
“You said this started a few days ago?” she asked. Her hands left his skin. Izaya sat up on the table and spoke over the awful tightness in his belly.
“Yes. Out of nowhere.”
“There are no lumps, and no other visible alteration to your breast tissues.” She stepped away from him as he reached to put his clothes back on, but she didn’t sit at her desk; instead she leaned on it and crossed her arms in front her before asking, “Have you considered the possibility that you might be pregnant?”
Izaya felt himself choke on his heartbeat. “I’m not pregnant,” he said.
She looked at him in silence for a moment.
“Well,” and she stood up to rummage through the metal cabinet at her left, “I’m going to take a blood sample anyway. I’ll ask the lab to go through routine tests and contact you in a few days when I get the results back.”
He paid her in cash when she was done, the bills absent the softness of handling—he had drawn them from a bank on his way to her office. She grabbed them without a word.
“This could just be because of your—habit,” she said tastefully as he opened the door to leave. “You should stop wearing these things until I get the results back.” You should stop wearing these things at all, was what she meant.
“Thank you, doctor,” Izaya replied without turning back.
It wasn’t yet night when he exited the building. Light still whitened the sky where the sun had dwindled to spare rays over the cityscape, and no stars shone yet for the barrage of bright streets and windows polluting his vision. Izaya walked briskly along the limits of Toshima, his hand a fist around the phone in his pocket.
It might have been the heavy awareness he was stuck in at the moment that made him pick up on the distant sound of metal hitting pavement, that made his hair rise in answer to the growl of Shizuo’s voice at the other end of the street.
“I’m leaving,” he called harshly before Shizuo could step any closer. Shizuo blinked slowly. With one hand brushing against a pole on the side of the street and his face caught between irritation and surprise he looked out of time, a frame in the progress to violence that no one was supposed to witness. It made cold sweat gather at the back of Izaya’s neck and something unfurl in his stomach, warm and angry for lack of a better emotion to hang on to.
“Good,” Shizuo said. His hand fell back by his side slowly. “Stay out of Ikebukuro.”
“We’re not even in Ikebukuro,” Izaya replied in annoyance. “What are you doing here?”
“Work,” the man grunted. “Gotta follow them all the way to their hideouts now. Pisses me off.”
“What doesn’t,” Izaya said under his breath.
For a long while they stared at each other. Inevitably, Shizuo’s face hardened with darker and more violent feeling; he looked as uncomfortable with the changing pace of their interactions as Izaya was, and though Izaya still felt instinctive reluctance to admit that he related to that man in any way, he couldn’t help but feel his own discomfort tint itself with sympathy. It was simpler when they could still lose themselves to the abandon of the chase.
But now, two years after Izaya had first experienced the crushing hold of Shizuo’s arms around him in something less than hatred and so much more than anger—it felt wrong. It felt like willingly blinding himself or cutting off his own lifeline.
“Whatever,” Shizuo declared. He looked at Izaya again, blinked slowly in suspicion and reluctance alike. He stepped forward; but Izaya didn’t move, didn’t know that he could enter this other sort of dance with him today, and it must have bled into his face or the tension in his limbs, because Shizuo stopped.
“Okay,” Shizuo said. “I’ll just—” he put his hands in his pockets, and then took them out again. “I have to go back to it.”
“You do that,” Izaya gritted out.
Shizuo nodded. “See you whenever.”
He left Izaya feeling hollow, sucked out of all his substance on the sidewalk as if he had just come out of a fight instead of avoided one.
The woman called three days later.
“I have your test results,” she said evenly over the phone. “Congratulations.”
He must’ve known, he thought faintly as she detailed her availabilities for their next appointment. He must’ve had that answer in him long before Namie suggested it; since the day the pain started, since the weak bleeding a few weeks prior, or maybe while still lying down in bed with sweat cooling over his body and warmth between his legs and Shizuo’s hand absently stroking his neck.
Izaya allowed himself a full day to avoid considering his options before he grabbed his phone and typed in Shinra’s number from memory. He needn’t have. It was stored inside the device, inside every one of his devices, but he did it before he could help himself, with the faint hope of having made a mistake and ending up on a stranger’s line. He would have an excuse to distract himself then.
But it was Shinra who answered lightly at the other end, “I haven’t heard from you for a while! What do you want?” as chipper as Izaya’s mood was somber, and the contrast was enough to drag the last of Izaya’s sluggish stupor out of him.
“Shinra. There’s no way you’d perform on abortion on me, right?”
He was rewarded with the near-unprecedented sound of Shinra’s voice failing to the weight of genuine surprise.
“No,” he replied after a while. “No way.”
Izaya rubbed his forehead slowly. “I kind of expected that.”
He waited for Shinra to jab at him for it; sat tense in his revolving chair with his mind already shaping a taunt to Shinra’s voice for him; but Shinra only sighed at the other end, and Izaya heard the scrap of a chair against wooden floor, faint in the background.
Shinra made a small noise as he sat down. “Not my area of expertise,” he said without a hint of softness to his words. “I probably could if I wanted to and had the right equipment around, but I don’t have it, and I don’t want to.” And then, after a second: “How far along are you?”
Izaya heard Shinra hum thoughtfully over the receiver.
“Not that you need me to tell you that,” he offered, “but you largely have the means to go around the jurisdiction about this.”
“You’re right,” Izaya replied, extending his legs in front of him and pushing lightly with his foot against the corner of his desk. “I don’t need you to tell me that.”
He waited with caught breath for something, for Shinra to ask, Then why don’t you? But Shinra never had it in him to care this much, not about Izaya—not about anyone who wasn’t Celty Sturluson.
The silence spread for so long Izaya thought Shinra might hang up out of sheer boredom. His living-room was washed out by the white light of day, the windows big enough to ensure clarity even with clouds outside preventing the sun from pouring in. Izaya turned slowly in his chair.
And then, “Have you told Shizuo-kun?”
Izaya’s heart beat once, forceful and bruising, almost like a hiccup. “What?”
“You should tell him, if you’re not going to get an abortion,” Shinra explained. As if it was that simple. Izaya didn’t think he could’ve moved even in the leftover motion of his chair, nauseating now rather than soothing. Shinra waited a second, and then chuckled, “Please, did you really think I didn’t know?”
“You tell me,” Izaya breathed at last. “We never see each other, and I haven’t told anyone.”
“Ah, Orihara-kun, you do tend to hold everyone to promises they never made.” Before Izaya could ask what he meant, Shinra added: “Shizuo-kun told Celty as soon as you two started sleeping together.”
Izaya’s first, skin-deep reaction to this was betrayal so stark it left little room to anger; there was only ache, severed trust like raw blisters around his heart—but Shinra’s words caught up to him, and he realized he had never told Shizuo to keep silent. He had only expected him to.
“Don’t worry, I doubt he’s told anyone else,” Shinra said with a smile on his voice. “Even if he did, who would believe him?”
“Yes. Because I’m messed up enough to realize how messed up you’ve always been for him.”
“This talk is taking a turn I don’t especially like,” Izaya groaned, dragging a hand over his face to the feverish burn of his forehead. Shinra laughed softly.
“Well, anyway. As I said, I’m not interested in terminating your pregnancy—and I’m not interested in becoming your doctor for its duration, before you ask.”
Izaya clutched his phone to the point of pain. He exhaled, then asked, “Can I know why?”
“I don’t care,” Shinra answered simply.
Izaya hadn’t bothered preparing arguments for this expected outcome. Still, they flashed through his mind one after the other, a long string of small anxieties Shinra could have alleviated if only he had cared.
He knew what awaited him for the next few months. He knew what healthcare had in store for people like him and he knew he would not stand the small aggressions any more than the big ones, would not manage to undergo them in silence or without repercussions on himself. He remembered his doctor’s face and her cold indifferent hands, and if Shinra’s would not be any different at least with him Izaya had the certainty of understanding and respect.
But Shinra didn’t care. Shinra didn’t want to. Fury knotted itself tightly inside Izaya’s throat, hot like an open flame, and his heart felt pressurized inside his chest, like light stuck inside a glass box. Like a star collapsing on itself.
“Fuck you, Shinra,” Izaya rasped. “Fuck you.” His eyes welled up with tears, and he wiped them away with the back of his trembling hand.
Izaya wasn’t nauseous at all. He had stopped drinking coffee in the morning and taken to tea instead, with a side dish of prenatal vitamins he swallowed mechanically. But so far he hadn’t encountered any smell he found especially repulsive, and if the pain in his breasts was still here at least he woke up every morning without a hint of an upset stomach.
“You’re glowing,” Namie had told him when she caught him spacing out. “Positively brimming with parental bliss.”
“I’d hate to be a distraction,” he shot back. “Tell me if you’d rather I fire you.”
They both knew he wouldn’t.
Sitting in the back seat of Shiki’s car, Izaya watched Awakusu’s executive light a cigarette, and as the gold-plated lighter closed with a click he felt cold discomfort spread through him.
As the hot acrid smell filled his nostrils he found himself holding his breath, opening his mouth to inhale instead even though it felt worse this way—even though now he could feel the smoke burn down his throat and stick to his tongue unpleasantly. Secondhand smoking was dangerous, Izaya knew it, Izaya didn’t care, he had run into bursts of grey smoke to land hits before and sat in this very car with his head filled with it and lay over his bed and his couch and his floor as Shizuo smoked next to him, and—
“Are you all right?” Shiki asked, suspicion on his lips and a heavy frown at his forehead, and Izaya replied, “No,” before he could help it.
He breathed again, shakily; the smoke filled his lungs and ran through his veins like fear.
“Could you put out your cigarette, please?” he asked.
Shiki watched him uncomprehendingly for a second. Then he crushed the lit end of his cigarette into the glass ashtray at his side and opened the window to ventilate the inside of the car.
Izaya waited until his heartbeat had returned to something manageable. He took slow breaths of fresh air and ignored the goosebumps riding along the skin of his arms through layers of cloth.
After more than a minute was spent in complete silence, Izaya said, “I’m going to take a break from work soon.”
Shiki watched him like a hawk. “This is unexpected.”
“Personal obligations,” Izaya replied. “It’s only for a few months. I’ll keep you informed.”
Working with Shiki, Izaya reflected, was a pleasure like no other. There was something to be said about a yakuza’s sense of discretion.
Shiki dropped him off at the entrance of the sunlit park where he had picked him up earlier. The air was warm with the end of winter, heavy with flowers and early pollen Izaya could feel tickling his nose when he breathed. After he stepped out of the car and stretched his shoulders, Shiki pushed against the door so it wouldn’t close completely.
“I was thinking,” he started.
He stopped to consider Izaya for a moment, then sighed. “There is one more job I would like you to work on. I wanted to wait a little longer before asking for your services, but…”
“I’m available until I say I’m not,” Izaya said with a tight smile. “Shoot, Shiki-san.”
“A poor choice of words,” Shiki replied with a gruff laugh. He rummaged through the folder by his side and handed it over to Izaya. “Do you have any info on this?”
Izaya did. It was too soon to offer it up for sale, though, and as he eyes raked over the face of a woman he remembered as a child and organizations he had followed from their start to their hazardous growth, he said, “I will, as soon as I can.”
Shiki observed him with only the relaxed curve of his mouth to betray his curiosity. In the end he nodded, and said his farewells, and no sooner had he closed the door and window that his sleek black car moved away, glowing in the evening light.
Izaya started walking away slowly. His back ached a little from sitting down for more than an hour, in long slow strokes of hurt from his hips to his thighs. Around him Ikebukuro shone with energy in preparation for nightly activities, and quite a few students were out of uniform already and joining in small groups to head for the livelier parts of town. He let his body relax into the stroll and his mind clear of the day’s flow of intelligence both given and found. He almost missed the low call of his name from a side street—but he couldn’t have missed Shizuo’s shadow emerging from the mouth of the alley, the loose bow around his neck and Tanaka Tom’s vaguely surprised face behind him.
“Izaya,” Shizuo said again, and Izaya felt his heart in his throat as his eyes zeroed in on Tanaka. Shizuo hesitated before turning to his boss.
Tanaka raised two hands, palms outs in sign of surrender. “Got it. I’ll see you tomorrow, Shizuo.”
“Yeah,” Shizuo replied softly. “Thanks, Tom-san.”
“No problem.” The man shot Izaya a thoughtful glance as he walked by, but he didn’t say anything more, and the tension in Izaya’s shoulders dropped with every step he took farther away from them.
He briefly considered making a run for it. One look at the frown on Shizuo’s face made him reconsider, though—he didn’t seem angry, but he wasn’t far from it either.
“Did someone try to punch you?” Izaya asked instead, eyeing the bruise at Shizuo’s chin.
“What?” Shizuo brought a hand to his face, and winced. “Oh. Hit me with a crow bar, actually.”
“You really are a freak,” Izaya chuckled, shaking his head. “To think there are still people in this city who try to best you.”
Shizuo frowned, but didn’t say anything in answer. He was watching Izaya, scrutinizing him as if he wanted to turn his skin to glass and witness the things inside, and Izaya swallowed painfully, nerves alight with sudden flight response as though his entire skin was being rubbed with sandpaper.
“If that’s all,” he finally blurted out.
But when he turned on his heels to leave Shizuo grabbed him by the wrist, tight but painless. Izaya’s lungs locked up.
“Wait,” Shizuo said.
“Not here,” he gritted out. A man had already stopped to watch them on the opposite sidewalk. “At least try not make a scene, Shizu-chan.”
“You’re one to fucking talk.” But Shizuo tugged on Izaya’s wrists, his grip still painfully gentle, and as he dragged them both back to the alley he had come from his pinky brushed against the heel of Izaya’s hand lightly.
He released Izaya once they were in the shadow. Izaya stepped back to lean against the wall and asked, “What do you want, then?”
“Don’t look so happy to see me, you asshole,” Shizuo growled. Izaya felt his breath catch again, but Shizuo only sighed and rubbed at his forehead before looking at him directly, his face a mix of irritation and concern. “You’ve been avoiding me.”
Izaya inhaled harshly. “I can’t believe it took you so long to notice. Why yes, Shizu-chan, I’ve been trying to avoid you for ten years now.”
“Are you still fucking going on about this?” Shizuo said, taking a step forward. Izaya pushed harder against the wall. “You know what I’m talking about.”
“What kind of relationship do you think we have?” Izaya laughed, bright and easy, even as his ribs threatened to shatter under the beat of his heart.
“I don’t know, god damn it, you tell me.”
Izaya breathed out. “All right,” he said. “I’ll tell you.”
He pushed against the bricks with his palms, walked until his toes could touch Shizuo’s and their noses almost bumped when he lifted his head. He brought up a hand, curled it around the rumpled collar of Shizuo’s shirt and closed his thumb and index finger around the untied string of his bow. Shizuo’s face flushed all at once, skin red and vibrant at his cheeks and ears, and when his mouth relaxed to open, wet and inviting, Izaya tugged off the tie and stepped backwards.
“Not that kind of relationship,” he said. He crushed the bowtie in his fist—and the shaking in his fingers with it.
Shizuo closed his mouth, and the sound of his teeth hitting together echoed for a second through the deserted alley. Izaya watched him intently, waited for the curve of his hands to break into the motion of a punch or a grab, and all the while his grin ached on his face and his shoulders thrummed with unspent violence.
But Shizuo straightened up from the slight bow he had taken to kiss. He closed his eyes, and exhaled, and when he talked it was only to say, “You insecure bastard.”
Izaya felt blood rush to his head until his vision blurred. He almost stumbled with it, masked the fall as a step back into Shizuo’s space and pressed a hand against the pocket at his hip where he could feel the outline of a knife.
“Don’t insult me,” he said to the dark silhouette of Shizuo’s body as his fingers closed around the handle of the flick blade.
Izaya swung blindly, and the sharp end of his knife sang through thin air as Shizuo stepped aside to avoid him. He felt more than saw Shizuo’s hand close on his arm once more. “Don’t touch me—”
“Izaya,” and now there was worry pressing down on Shizuo’s voice, and incredulity, and Izaya would have taken second to consider it if not for the dizziness slurring his thoughts into one another—“your nose is bleeding.”
What? Izaya thought. But he could feel it now, liquid warmth above his lips, and when he opened his mouth he could taste metal and salt.
“Are you sick?” the shape with Shizuo’s voice asked. “I’m calling Shinra–”
“No,” Izaya said.
The hand at his wrist tightened in a spasm. “You’re not even steady on your feet.”
“I’m fine,” Izaya retorted. He made a face when he wiped away the blood with his sleeve—but it came again, an unstoppable stream now dripping from his chin and onto his clothes, and his sight didn’t fix itself, and when Shizuo spoke again Izaya didn’t hear him under the rush of his own breathing quickening with every second.
What is going on, he wondered somewhat distantly. There was darkness now at the corners of his sight, and sounds came to him as if muffled by ear plugs.
“I’m,” he started, but he didn’t know what to say—wouldn’t have known how to ask for assistance even if it wasn’t presented to him on a silver platter. With a burst of will he tried to rip his hand away from Shizuo’s hold, but that turned out to be a mistake; without this support there was nothing to parry the feeling of awareness running away from him or the way black bled into his vision until he couldn’t see anything at all.
And then it was only a matter of too many panicked breaths in too little time before he blacked out completely.
“… started bleeding out of nowhere.”
“You should have brought him to the hospital.”
“Shit, Shinra. You don’t actually have anything else to do right now, just take care of him, all right?”
There was a brief high-pitched sound, slippers whining against polished floor, and then Shinra’s yelp, “I’m saying this for Orihara-kun’s sake! He was really mad at me the last time we talked.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
Izaya forced his eyes open through the heavy drum of his headache. His eyesight took a second to adjust out of blur, and for this entire lifetime he couldn’t breathe at all for fear of passing out again. Eventually he managed to make out the details of Shinra’s living-room, the back of the couch he was lying on and the corner of the glass coffee table, and when he pushed himself upright on shaky arms he finally saw Shinra and Shizuo standing on the other side of his makeshift bed.
“Izaya,” Shizuo said immediately, and the relief in his tone felt like an arrow stabbing through Izaya’s belly.
“Oh, you’re awake already,” Shinra commented idly. He fiddled with his glasses, walked around the couch to lean over Izaya. “How do you feel?”
“I thought you didn’t care,” Izaya tried to snap, but his voice came weak as a whisper. He cleared his throat.
“I don’t, but I have a feeling Shizuo-kun does.”
Izaya glanced at Shizuo briefly, before turning back to Shinra. “I’m fine. I’ll be leaving shortly.”
“You were bleeding,” Shizuo interjected with a growl. “You’re not fine.”
Izaya rolled his eyes and said, “It was a nosebleed, Shizu-chan. I’m sure you’ve had your share of them and experienced yourself how harmless they are.”
“You did pass out,” Shinra said conversationally. “Could be more than just a nosebleed.”
“Which is why I’ll tell my actual doctor all about it tomorrow,” Izaya said with as much mockery in his voice as he could muster, but Shizuo was speaking over him, uncrossing his arms and frowning pathetically and asking, “Wait, what do you mean?”
Shinra pushed his glasses back up on his nose and replied, “Well, Orihara-kun is underweight even in normal circumstances, but with his current condition it could easily lead to anemia and light-headedness. Add the stress I’m sure he’s drowning in right now and you got yourself a good recipe for blackouts.”
There was a beat. “What condition?” Shizuo asked, dumbfounded, at the same time as Izaya’s heart skipped a beat and he hissed, “Shinra,” with enough strength to betray himself even if the doctor hadn’t.
And Shinra smiled and said, “The pregnancy, of course.”
Izaya heard none of the silence that followed; his blood beat against his ears so loudly he thought he would go deaf from the volume alone, and his left arm shook once, so weak all of sudden that he near fell back onto the couch from lack of support. Air felt like lead when he breathed in and fire when he breathed out. From the corner of his eyes—resolutely turned to the glint of sunlight still caught onto the smooth surface of the coffee table—he saw Shizuo’s hands fall open-palmed at his side, excruciatingly slow.
The sound of broken porcelain brought him back. He jerked his head to the kitchen, only now noticing Celty standing there with a ridiculous frilly apron on and a hand still open around nothing, the cup of tea she had held now lying broken at her feet, its content spilling out to burn over the wooden floor. She fidgeted with her phone for a second. When it dropped too she didn’t think to catch it with her shadows—she bent down to pick it up, hands trembling with emotion she didn’t have a face to convey.
Izaya’s pregnant!? she held up for them all to see, the elephant in the room written black on yellow in her hands. Shinra said something in assent, and she hesitated again, typing and erasing for a good twenty seconds before deciding on, With a baby?
Izaya swallowed the excess saliva in his mouth and wheezed out a breath around the tightness in his chest. He could feel Shizuo’s eyes burning the side of his face, the shell of his ear, the hollow of his neck where his skin pulsed in time with his heartbeat.
“Um,” Shinra said without much remorse in his voice. “I thought you would’ve told him already.” His eyes flicked to the side where Shizuo stood still as a statue.
“Is it…” Shizuo said. Izaya looked at his hand as it slid into his pocket and then stopped. Shizuo took a shuddering breath. “Is that true?” he asked instead of what he really wanted to know.
So Izaya unstuck his dry tongue from his palate and answered, “Yes, it’s yours.”
He let himself look then, let his eyes rise up the length of Shizuo’s arm to his shoulder to the shattered expression he wore. The raw disbelief on his face, and the guilt, and the wonder, and the beginning of redness over his skin that only made his eyes softer with affection—and then Izaya had to turn away again before he stopped breathing at all. His hands were shaking again.
That’s wonderful, Celty was saying now, waving her phone in his face so fast Izaya barely had time to read at all. You’re going to have a baby!
“Celty,” Shizuo said lowly, but she didn’t listen. She turned to Shinra then, flashing another message to his eyes only, to which he replied, “I don’t know.”
She straightened slightly at his words. Izaya had time to catch her next text before she angled it away from him. What do you mean you don’t know?
“I’m not Orihara-kun’s doctor,” Shinra said. “You’d have to ask them instead.”
Why aren’t you? Celty asked, outrage written in the line of her shoulders, and Izaya pushed himself to his feet.
“I’m leaving,” he announced without looking at anyone. He made it to the mouth of the hallway before Shizuo caught him by the elbow. Izaya let anger ignite in him and pushed back against his hold, discomfort and disgust itching beneath his skin so much Shizuo must’ve been able to feel it somehow. His grip relaxed until Izaya could free himself.
For a second they looked at each other with matching frowns wrinkling their foreheads and upturning their mouths.
“Can we have a moment?” Shizuo said, turning to look at Celty.
Sure, she answered. For all that she lacked a head Izaya thought she was looking at him then, maybe staring at his body in search for a still non-existent weight gain, but soon enough she took Shinra by the arm and dragged him to their bedroom. The door closed behind them with a click.
Izaya stared at the corner of Shizuo’s chin, still bruised purplish and red from earlier.
“Save it,” Izaya cut in. Whatever Shizuo wanted to say, he couldn’t take it. Not now.
Shizuo grunted unhappily. “Fine. Fine. But we have to talk about this eventually.” And then, after a shaky inhale, “You. You’re.”
“I’m pregnant,” Izaya replied easily, as if the words hadn’t cut themselves out of him for all three times he’d had to say them.
Shizuo flinched as if struck. He was redder now than Izaya had ever seen him, something deeper and more meaningful than embarrassment bleeding into his skin and making his eyes so hard to meet—as if Izaya now held power over him with his words the way he had always wanted to.
He found himself unable to contemplate the possibility. Instead of pleasure all he could find was stumbling fear, air like weights in his lungs and blood like ice in his veins, and when Izaya fumbled to grab the door to the hallway his other hand closed on soft fabric in his pocket—Shizuo’s bowtie still kept there like a hunting trophy, except it felt less like Izaya was the hunter than the other way around.
He kept it linked between his fingers the entire way to his home. The cloth might as well have been a chain.
Izaya woke up at five in the morning the following day, his headache gone but his body still sore from the fall and the stress. He stayed in bed without moving despite his hunger, ignored the stickiness of his skin where he had sweated during the night. When he had waited long enough that he thought office hours were open, he called his doctor.
“Nosebleeds are pretty common,” the woman said icily. “Are your veins bulging?”
Izaya looked down at his forearm, at he imprint of his veins under his skin like bruises. “Yes,” he replied.
“Pregnancy means more blood in your body,” she explained, and he could hear the click of her pen against her old wooden desk as if he was sitting before her. “Small vessels in your nose tend to burst from the pressure. It’s not especially dangerous for you or the fetus. Do you have any other worries?”
Izaya thought about Shinra’s words. He thought about the unchanging numbers on the scales every morning after he bathed, about the hunger pans he was reluctant to indulge—about anemia, about light-headedness and blurry eyesight, about Shizuo’s face open on guilt and longing.
“No,” he said, and he hung up.
This morning he put away the scales into the lowest cabinet of his bathroom. He banged his head on the corner of his sink while trying to stand back up, and Namie found him like this, eyes damp from the sharp pain in his skull and ears ringing from her shrill laugh even after she helped him to his feet.
He expected Shizuo to show up in the morning, then during lunch, then all afternoon until Namie said her last parting bite of the day and left, the door slamming shut behind her. But it wasn’t until the sun was down that his phone rang, that the dark of his room lit up with Shizu-chan written white on grey on his phone screen. Izaya looked out the window to the twilit skyline and turned on the speakers.
“I’m coming over,” Shizuo said. He didn’t sound angry. He didn’t sound much of anything.
In any other circumstances Izaya would have turned in a joke, would have jabbed at Shizuo’s lack of restraint or his own, would have waited in expectation of the only outcome that Shizuo coming over ever had between them. But this time all he said was, “All right,” and all he felt was the wrong kind of anticipation. One that reminded him more of their fights and less of their coupling.
Shizuo must have called him from the bottom of the building. It wasn’t two minutes before he pushed open the door to Izaya’s hallway without knocking or waiting to be invited in. Izaya glanced at his face for the briefest second before walking to his kitchen and turning on the kettle.
“Is tea okay?” he called tensely.
He heard Shizuo shuffle behind him. “Yeah,” he replied, more breath than word. He hesitated to come in, and settled on going back to sit on the couch outside while Izaya collected himself.
None of this would be so difficult if Shizuo was as bad a person as Izaya was, he thought faintly.
In the end he came out with two burning mugs of tea in hands, put one on the coffee table in front of Shizuo without meeting his eyes before walking away to sit on the other angle of the couch.
Shizuo winced when he touched the cup. He rubbed his fingers together to dissipate the burn. “Sorry for calling in so late,” he said quietly. “Work—”
“Yes, I’m familiar with the concept,” Izaya replied immediately. He was clenching his own cup without drinking from it. He watched absently at where the skin of his fingers turned red against the ceramic, felt with distance the itch of the burn where his knuckles pressed into it.
Shizuo frowned at him. “No need to be an ass about it.”
“Don’t you know better than to think I can be anything but an ass to you?” Izaya asked idly, taking his first sip without recoiling even as he could feel his tongue sizzle.
“Look,” Shizuo growled. The arm of the couch creaked under the weight of his hand. “I get that you’re angry at me, but we’re not going to get anywhere if you just sit here attacking me for every little thing.”
“Why would I be angry at you?”
“I don’t know,” he hissed, hand coming to wrap itself around his knee instead of anywhere breakable. “Why the fuck won’t you tell me?”
He was looking at Izaya with so little effort, focusing all of his attention on him as if it was as simple a task as to lift his eyes and stay, and Izaya had to breathe from his nose until his lungs quieted.
“I told you,” Izaya said, the words slow and deep as he could make them, “that we don’t have that kind of relationship.”
Shizuo clenched his teeth, and for a second Izaya thought with breathless expectation that he was going to insist, and he didn’t know if the cold in his belly was from hope or hopelessness; but Shizuo breathed in, and closed his eyes, and when he looked at Izaya again it was with grim resolution.
“I talked to Shinra,” he said. “About…” He stumbled; took another breath. “Well. He said you can still—that, if you want to, there’s still time to stop everything.”
Izaya’s chest felt like a brick wall. “Yes.”
“Yes,” Shizuo repeated. “And I wanted to tell you, that if you need me to sign anything—”
The laughter was all nerves when it pushed itself out of Izaya’s lungs, no humor and no kindness. “I don’t need your authorization,” Izaya said. It ached to smile but he did anyway.
“I know you don’t,” Shizuo said, more softly. “You’re into all the shit that goes on in these parts of town, you could probably get someone to do it illegally.”
“I’m glad your pea-sized brain can deduce this far.”
“All I meant,” Shizuo continued as if Izaya hadn’t spoken, “is that I won’t interfere either way. Do whatever you want. And I’m sorry for putting you in this situation.”
There was a silence.
“We were two having sex that day, Shizu-chan,” Izaya said.
“Yeah,” Shizuo replied, cheeks darkening. “But I’m not the one growing a baby inside me. And I,” he glanced to the side, clenched his hand tighter around his knee, “I’m guessing this isn’t especially comfortable. For you.”
Shizuo had always been ridiculously good at this; as if respect had to come hand-in-hand with violence of feeling, as if he couldn’t properly hate Izaya unless he knew how to address him. Shinra had slipped up, and Kadota even more, but not Shizuo, not as teenagers and not as adults, not in front of others or in the privacy of a bedroom, not with his fists punching next to Izaya’s head or his hands pressing warm against slick skin. Not once. Not ever. Izaya looked at the side of his face, at the slouch of his neck, and thought of putting his hand there—he imagined reaching over the space between them and tugging Shizuo’s head down, downer, until it looked like a bow forced by the strength of Izaya’s hands alone instead of Shizuo’s willingness to comply. The picture branded itself into him so that he could almost feel Shizuo’s lips dry and warm on his, could almost sense Shizuo’s hands searing at his hips the way they always did, and heat spread through him like liquor until he couldn’t help but breathe out of his mouth shakily.
He asked, “Do you actually want to have a kid?”
Shizuo’s hand slipped on his leg as he toppled under the motion of what could be a flinch but looked more like his leaning forward to stare at Izaya again, guilt dripping into longing and longing turning into hope. Izaya thought he could have remembered of the Yes that left his lips for the rest of his life even if he hadn’t heard it.
Really. Everything would be so much simpler if Shizuo was as monstrous as Izaya wanted him to be.
4 thoughts on “Aches Like Nothing (Part I – Index)”
Be far the best writing I have ever read…even outside of fanfiction! The way you describe settings and feelings is beautiful. It so creative and poetic! I find myself reading random excerpts to people I know because I can’t help but share your beautiful work! Incredible story and writing.
Thank you sooo much! This is so kind of you ;__;
God you are so amazing at emotion, especially the quiet sizzling kind that stays with you through the day without ever really exploding. I love how you build it through your fic, you are really great at making us feel what the characters are feeling even if we ourselves never experienced anything like those emotions.
This is so nice, thank you!!!