Knowledge

Chapter 11

"While we're here why don't we go on a tour? To see the sights."

Izaya nodded without paying much attention. He had just spent a couple of hours staring intently at his laptop and chewing on a thumb until he drew blood. At which point Shizuo began to be genuinely worried since Izaya did not even seem to notice the bleeding but kept on scrolling down frantically.

Shizuo wanted to check out the coral reefs and since Izaya did not object it was settled. He almost wished that Izaya would complain as usual but he merely sat in listless introspection as pretty scenery rushed past the bus windows. It was not so much that something had happened in Tokyo that bothered Izaya, it was the complete lack of anything at all. For the first time in his life it occurred to Izaya that he was not all that important in the large scheme of things. The thought depressed him considerably.

"Oh look, you're in the news. Local paper."

Izaya perked up immediately.

"Really now. Do read."

"'Yesterday a man confused crowd with naked stunt. Tourists said that a young man sporting a Tokyo accent appeared naked before a crowd of beach goers. 'We thought that it was an event for TV', some said. The man disappeared shortly after but it seems that a new trend has started as people adhere to his concept of 'celebrating the human body.''"

Izaya burst out laughing.

"See, I'm the ultimate trend setter."

"Looks like it."

"So, where are we going again?"

Izaya had boarded the bus without even bothering to find out. He only revived once his importance was acknowledged even in such a minor way.

"Coral reefs."

"Ah. Is this one of those 'the glories of nature' kind of thing?"

"Just look out the window, it's a pretty place."

They were passing through the green shades of a forest and a swerve of the road revealed a sweep of strongly blue ocean. Izaya fanned himself despite the air conditioning.

"Scenic beauty, like all beauty, is relative."

"I guess…but for some reason people like this kind of place better than, say, rotten suburbs by a dirty river."

"Indeed. Cleaner environments provide a greater chance of survivability."

"Ah…people also kinda agree that you're cute."

Izaya nodded and beamed. It seemed somewhat shallow to Shizuo.

"It's because I match the aesthetic ideal of the age."

Nonchalant yet smug.

"Still think you're too skinny."

"Good thing it's utterly irrelevant what you think, then."

Izaya was still very sore over the previous night's events. Too much to avoid this pointed mention even though he had decided to act as if nothing at all had happened.

"You should eat more."

"Anyway, are we there yet?"

"Nah, still a while to go."

Izaya sunk on the seat. He hated having nothing to do.

"You were talking the other day about how you lost your virginity. Why don't you tell me now?"

Izaya granted him a sly good and smiled.

"It was with that girl that sat across you on our junior high school year."

"Oh."

"The one you had a crush on, I believe. That made it all the better."

"I don't really care, that's just what I'd expect of you. But if you wanted to upset me shouldn't you have let me know about this at the time."

Izaya clicked with his tongue and gleamed.

"It sufficed that I knew about it."

"And afterward? What did you do after?"

Izaya pretended that he had to search his memory. As if he did not remember it perfectly.

"Played pachinko, I think."

"The girl was with you?"

"Er, no. I was on my own."

"Thought so."

Izaya shrugged. He did not particularly care for the inferences that Shizuo was drawing. Each curt nod on Shizuo's part was something of a jab. A change of topic was in order.

"Ah, I'm getting hungry. You keep harping on about food, I don't suppose you got any?"

"I got some pocky."

Izaya wrinkled his nose at the offer.

"Milk chocolate? That's even worse than the normal kind."

"I like it."

"Horrible taste you have."

"You know how it goes, taste in food like taste in other things is relative."

Izaya rolled his eyes and convinced a fellow traveler to share half a sandwich with him. Lettuce and tuna, not altogether awful even if canned food was something of a crime.

"Did that girl like you?"

"Say what?"

"It's pretty obvious you didn't like her but do you suppose she liked you?"

Izaya chewed thoughtfully.

"Possibly. I cannot tell for sure. She must have liked an idea of me, at least."

"What do you mean?"

"You know, 'Orihara Izaya, bad boys are so sexy. And he's so smart, too.'"

"So there's more to you than that?"

Izaya laughed with genuine humor.

"If you didn't think there was then you would've saved your money. And I wouldn't be riding a bus with my arch nemesis."


Izaya was suspicious. Going with a small boat into the wide ocean did not strike him as all that wise. But apparently it was safe enough. He regretted not heeding his first impulse almost right away. Waves rocked him about and within half a minute he was nauseous. Unfortunately the boat sped and in no time the shore was a mere line in the distance. Izaya doubled over the balustrade and tried not to throw up when a freak wave drenched him to the bone. He spluttered and coughed, anger adding to his dismay. Shizuo blinked at him.

"Hey, you okay?"

"I'm- not bloody okay!"

"Pretty fish, look."

Shizuo pointed at the lowered area in the middle of boat. Transparent all around it allowed anyone to experience the beautiful underworld wonders of pink coral reefs between which schools of fish swum as ribbons of silver. Orihara Izaya was not at all interested. He felt sicker than ever. And still spitting water.

"Gah…can't this thing turn around already?"

"But we just got here."

Izaya shot him a glare that made him slightly ridiculous. Soaked clothes and hair added to the general impression.

"Fine, you can go watch all the fishies you want and just let me go back."

"There's no point if we're not together."

Izaya managed to gather himself enough to pull himself from the bottom of the boat.

"What do you think this is, a honeymoon?"

"I dunno, you tell me. This was all your idea to start with. I was fine being in Tokyo but you wanted to come to Okinawa…apparently to bitch about everything."

Izaya bristled up. He could not admit that he was forced into exile without at all losing faith but it was obvious that he was not enjoying himself in the slightest.

"I cannot help being seasick."

"Oh look, shark."

"I'm not falling for that twice."

"No really, shark."

Commotion got his attention and Izaya peered cautiously into the see through area. He saw a large shark casually sliding along a bank of seaweed.

"I wonder if you can make sushi out of sharks."

"Can't you just enjoy the fishes without wanting to eat them?"

Izaya humphed.

"Now that's fresh coming from you. You're so big that I bet you'd swallow a great white shark whole."

Izaya's snappy flare was cut off short by a sudden swerve. The boat hit a bumpy stride and once it glided into smooth waters again, Izaya was a shade of deadly green.

"Still want shark sushi?"

"Oh shut up already."

He produced his cell phone for some needed distraction and proceeded to punch the keys madly.

"What're you doing?"

"It's dead! That's the second phone you destroyed!"

Izaya turned the dripping device at Shizuo who had been wondering how long it would take Izaya to figure out that salt water was not good for state of the art gadgets.

"You dropped the other one and I had nothing to do with this-"

"It's all your fault! Everything!"

Izaya was working himself into a tantrum. Shizuo handed him a barf bag.

"Breathe into it? You know, so that you don't go all trippy."

A twitching eyebrow. Izaya's lips became a thin line. He snatched the bag and remembered to check the chip.

"At least this looks unharmed. Where can I get a decent phone in this island, this place is preposterous."

"Oh come on, don't be a bitch. This isn't some desert island and you're not stranded. I'm sure they have all the fancy phone stuff you like."

Izaya thought so too but he did feel stranded.

"Yeah, yeah. You're buying it at any rate."

"Again?"

"Again."

Shizuo sighed.

"Okay, fine. Is there anyone that has died that you'd like to meet?"

"Durkheim and Charles Horton Cooley come to mind. Sociology is a fascinating field."

"Can't you just read their books?"

"You made the question, I answered it."

"This means that you never lost anyone important to you."

"You're forgetting that no one is important to me."

It was not very dignified but Izaya was freezing so he set to wring out the water from his shirt before his teeth began to shatter.

"You don't have to lie about that to me. You know I won't ever hurt your sisters so you don't have to pretend that you don't care."

"Whatever. There is no afterlife so the question is purely hypothetical."

"How do you know that?"

"Neurological science has shown that different parts of the brain are connected to particular mental events. Prodding these can have some very funny results. But this strongly suggests that 'mind' is what the brain does. The moment brain functions terminate there is no sentient life to speak of. Pretty notions of souls surviving death are pretty much demolished. And even without any such evidence there is no reason to believe that such a thing as the soul does exist. Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence but a very solid indicator nonetheless."

Shizuo had his doubts. He did know that he had never seen Izaya so down when expounding on complicated things. Izaya seemed to be cheered up by his ability to tackle complexity across the vast spectrum of human knowledge but he sounded very depressed. Too much to even conceal it. Shizuo realized that Izaya did not want to believe in what he was saying.

"Is that a jellyfish? So neat."

"Ha, 'jellyfish' is written with the kanji for 'sea' [海] and 'moon' [月]."

"You want to eat them too?"

"Aha, very funny. By the way, there is a type of jellyfish that is longer than Long Cat."

"Think your friend will find Long Cat?"

"Tsukumoya Shinichi is not my friend. I hate his/hers/its guts and I'm sure the feeling is very mutual. Basement dwelling creepos are not exactly the type of people I associate with."

"What kind of people do you associate with?"

"Hmm…I try to sample humanity in its many shapes and forms."

"Sounds like you're talking about sushi."


As soon as the boat docked Izaya leaped out which caused him to fall flat on his face.
"Your parkour skills are shot to hell."
His legs had not yet adjusted to non-moving ground. Izaya realized it but it did not make any less annoyed. Shizuo tried to help him get up but Izaya pushed him away.
"Don't touch me."
"'kay."
Izaya was planning on breezing through by bouncing back to his feet. Unfortunately attempts to do this resulted in failure. On top of which he felt sicker now that he was on land than before, the phantom sensation of being adrift added a degree of horror that the real thing lacked. After some struggling he found himself panting, sweating despite his damp clothes and in a very foul mood.
"Are you just going to stand there and watch?"
Shizuo shrugged.
"You told me not to help you out."
Izaya half regretted this. He felt keenly that he was making an absolute fool of himself. Just when he thought it could not get any worse, he found himself throwing up over the pier.
"…shit."
"You okay?"
"No, I'm not okay! Are you completely stupid?"
Izaya did not consciously choose to launch into an attack to divert from his current pathetic condition but Shizuo was aware that this what he was doing. Shizuo brought him a glass of water.
"Here, drink some. It'll make you feel better."
Izaya was going to inform him that Shizuo's jumping into shark invested waters served that purpose so much better but his head was beginning to spin and he did not have the strength to be sarcastic. So he drank the water and did not even complain as Shizuo patted his head.
"You're even more annoying when you're being nice."
"You know, for a Japanese person so suck so badly with boats is a bit sad. Since it's an island nation."
"Fine, take the national pride award or whatever."
Izaya wanted very much to walk away at a brisk pace but getting up was already a challenge. He protested feebly as Shizuo picked up and placed him on a bench.
"You got a fever."
"Go away."
Few times had Shizuo seen someone look so pitiful. He got Izaya some dry clothes and towed him back to the hotel. Izaya's feverish condition worsened so that by the time Shizuo secured him in the room he was half delirious.



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