Protest Too Much (40): Restraint

Shizuo gets off work late.

It’s not from forgetfulness. He’s been thinking about his plans with Izaya since before he left the house for his morning shift at the bar, has been so jittery with excitement and distraction all day that he’s been checking the clock at five-minute intervals and ruined three drinks by losing track of where he was in the recipe. But the bar owner showed up three minutes before the end of Shizuo’s shift, and even Shizuo’s best efforts to extricate himself with steadily waning politeness didn’t let him free until he finally blurted, “I have someone waiting for me,” barely thinking to append “Sorry” as an attachment to the blunt aggression of the statement. That had stalled the conversation where it was, had set him loose to make his way to the door, and even the laughing call of “Enjoy your date!” hadn’t been enough to more than flush his cheeks with a tinge of embarrassment as he shoved the door open and escaped to the wintery cool of the street outside. It’s not like he hasn’t thought the word himself anyway, not like he hasn’t been repeating it over and over inside the privacy of his own head like he’s nursing a flame between the cupped angle of his palms; he’s still thinking about it as he lifts his head to scan the street, to skip over the unfamiliar faces of strangers like they’re not even there as he looks for Izaya. It’s a date, his thoughts murmur, you’re on a date, you’re taking him on– and then there’s a gust of wind, and a ruffle of movement so familiar Shizuo’s chest is tightening even as he turns to look, and there’s Izaya, balancing on the edge of a chest-high chainlink fence and grinning so bright Shizuo can see it even across the width of the street. Shizuo’s breath rushes out of him, his mouth tugs into a helpless curve of warmth, and he barely glances at the quiet street before he’s stepping out onto the pavement to cut straight across the distance between them.

“Hi there,” Izaya says, still clinging to that smile as Shizuo approaches. His eyes are brighter than Shizuo remembers, sparkling with color as if they’ve captured the illumination of the Christmas lights strung in the windows of the storefronts around them. “You’re late, you know.”

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