Knowledge

Chapter 13

Izaya made sure to down a glass of milk at breakfast. A very late breakfast it must be said. Having been woken up by Shizuo at the absurdly early hours he claimed to still be too sore from sex and proceeded to laze around in bed. Eventually he called room service and was now happily eating a piece of toast without having bothered to budge from bed.

"See how obedient I am? Drinking milk and all!"

Shizuo could tell that Izaya was fully recovered.

"Good for you. I got a question for you."

"Everyday is Twenty Questions day. Ask away."

"What's the more important human invention to you?"

Izaya mused for a while, thoughtfully chewing on a slab of buttered toast.

"Hmm…that actually is a very good question. I am not sure I can narrow it down to a single one."

"Narrow it down to three, then."

"Writing, electricity and contraception."

"Not the internet?"

"Electricity – and I mean artificially generated electricity – allowed the development of the internet so it's covered. Writing attested to a level of development that allowed for knowledge to be better preserved and transmitted. As for contraception, it revolutionized the world in more ways than one."

Shizuo rubbed his chin.

"Like what? I mean, in what ways?"

Izaya was vague precisely because he liked being asked to go into specifics. He stretched a condom.

"When people think of 'man against nature' they think massive dams but this little piece of rubber is a much more impressive candidate. It might have done more for gender equality than all the feminist rhetoric put together. If women are baby machines then they cannot have a voice in decision making at a social level. But it goes beyond that. Our culture would simply not be the same without contraception, it separates 'sex' from 'reproduction'. If Malthus knew that such an invention would come about then I'm sure it would have spared him many a headache."

"That makes sense."

"More, if the biological drive is for passing one's genes to the next generation at all cost then controlling that and even avoiding it altogether is absolutely brilliant. I'd go as far as say that it represents the true emancipation of our species."

Shizuo turned it over.

"So you haven't got any kids."

"You thought I did?"

"Not really. But there's this kid that's been hanging around 'bukuro. He reminds me a lot of you. Same creepy smile."

Izaya narrowed his eyes slightly then shrugged dismissively.

"Ah, Aoba. So you've met Shark Boy. I know math is not your strongest point but you should know that I could not possibly have fathered someone as old as Aoba."

"Yeah, just saying that he reminded me of you."

"I am sure he would take offense at the mere insinuation. So, did you get this urge to throw a vending machine at Sharky?"

"Nah. But he creeped me out, two of you is a bit too much."

Izaya chuckled.

"No worries, Heiwajima-san. Orihara Izaya is unique and inimitable."

"But you knew who I meant right away so you must know that this Shark Boy is a lot like you."

"He's a wannabe. I've heard this before but I don't think we're all that alike. So what did Shark Boy say?"

"He talked a lot but it's not like he got to the point. Dunno what he wanted."

"Let me guess, you stopped listening halfway through."

"Pretty much. Something about changes and 'the world'."

Izaya chuckled.

"Enough of Shark Boy. I must say, I expected some great crises of conscience on your part. A 'Am I turning gay?' moment of freak out but alas, my expectations were foiled."

"I don't really care about stuff like that. Being gay or whatever."

"That's so advanced of you."

Izaya turned on the TV. And grew a few shades paler. On the screen a reporter gestured toward the still smoking remains of an apartment. Izaya recognized it immediately.

"-residents claim that they heard a loud bang and that the building shook, the incident took place shortly after ten. So far the police have been unable to determine if foul play is at hand and it has yet been confirmed if the owner, an Orihara Izaya, was at home at the time of the incident."

Izaya jumped to his feet.

"Looks like someone's out to kill you-"

"Give me your phone, mine's dead."

Shizuo shrugged but obeyed. Izaya switched cards with the speed of a croupier and paced up and down, phone firmly tucked. A million ideas ran through his mind, each one more alarming than the previous. Shizuo could only catch half of the conversation but it was enough to make him feel a bit sorry for whoever was on the other side.

"Masaomi? I expect you to have an explanation. I know that. Do not waste my time. Again, Masaomi, you are wasting my very precious time. Get to it. Who did it. What are you supposed to do for me? Which you're failing to do. Now, you're going to tell me who did this. Don't 'Orihara-san' me."

Izaya halted suddenly.

"You do realize that this means that you're utterly useless to me? I leave you in charge of something very simple and you fail completely. Oh, I see. Your pal Mikado is behind this, isn't he? He's been after me for a while and finally decided to do something very stupid. Looking after your buddy? Best friends for life? So you don't know that it wasn't Mikado, do you?"

Izaya half gloated but Shizuo could tell he was very close to losing it completely.

"If you like your buddy so much then you can follow him to the bottom of Tokyo Bay. How does that sound? You can then be together forever, literally."

A pause as Izaya seemed to actually listen.

"I get your point. But of all those possibilities you should be able to narrow them down. That's what I pay you for. How convenient! When you want someone to give you a job while you're off gang whoring you're ever so mature but when shit goes down it's suddenly 'Poor Kida-kun, can I haz candy.' Not going to work. You have until the end of the day to find out who bombed my apartment. Got it?"

Izaya was already punching in Namie's number when Shizuo snatched the phone from him.

"Give that back right now."

"Not until you talk to your sisters. I just got connection, Mairu's on the line."

Only now did Izaya notice that Shizuo held the landline receiver in his hand. He took a deep breath before reaching for it.

"Hello- yes, I'm okay. Ah. Sorry to have worried you. I only found out just now- I know. I should've done that, yes. Put her on, then. Kururi, hi there!...please don't cry. I'm fine, left town for a bit. Come on now, you know that there are no phones in the afterlife. Bad joke, huh. Stop crying, please? I really am alright. There, there. It's okay. Tell you what, you girls keep a low profile for a while. Just to be on the safe side. No tomfoolery until I find out what is going on. And don't contact me until further notice. I mean it. I'll give you a plush toy, something cute. I don't know yet- soon. Bye now."

Izaya closed his eyes and breathed in deeply.

"Can you leave for a while? Stop staring at me already!"

"You're upset because your sisters were very worried."

"Way to go, Sherlock."

Izaya was indeed very shaken. He formulated a thousand plans and discarded them. Nothing failed like not having enough information. But he sent messages to Kida and the twins instructing them not to tell anyone that he was alive. For the same reason he did not reply to the many messages. He considered telling Namie but in the end decided against it. He could do that later. Izaya ran out of the room and returned a few minutes later with a new phone. Paranoia made him extra careful lest he be tracked.

Izaya moved to the balcony and turned his back squarely to Shizuo just in case he might miss the point that his company was still very much unwanted. Fortunately he knew his entire phonebook by heart.

"Shiki-san? Would you be so kind as to explain to me exactly why my apartment was wiped off out of the face of the earth?"

"Aren't you glad you took my suggestion now?"

"Answer my question already!"

For once his voice hitched closer to a scream. Izaya stormed back into the room and began to pack which was to say that he shoved random items into the suitcases without even glancing at them.

"Orihara, you don't shout at me. Don't forget that."

Normally Izaya would notice the cold hint of a threat thinly veiled beneath even his very name but normally he did not feel like a hunted animal.

"Everything I own is gone! Someone tried to kill me!"

"Isn't that a given? Informants get killed all the time."

"I'm not 'informants', I'm Orihara Izaya! No one dares to go against me!"

Shizuo could easily see that Izaya was a few syllables from spinning out of control completely.

"Someone does, it seems."

"Find out who did it. Or-"

"Or what? You'll flail some more? You don't give me orders. It's the other way around."

Izaya stopped his frantic stuffing.

"Are you behind this, Shiki-san? Is that it?"

"I thought that 'Orihara Izaya' used his brain instead of making wild guesses."

"I'm catching the first plane back-"

"No you're not."

"Are you banning me from my turf?"

Even to himself Izaya sounded slightly dazed.

"For the time being. You're as safe as you can be in Okinawa on top of which you've got a bodyguard."

Izaya narrowed his eyes and glanced at Shizuo.

"You knew that someone was out to get me. What game are you playing here, Shiki?"

"Just stay where you are."

And before Izaya could ask anything else the line went dead. Izaya stared at the phone in silence long enough for Shizuo to wonder.

"I-za-ya-kun?"

"Are you in on it too?"

"In on what?"

Izaya exploded.

"Don't play dumb! This, this plot or whatever it is! Did they hire you to kill me?"

"Huh? Who's 'they'? You're sounding crazy now. Why would I bomb your house when I know you're not even there?"

"I don't know. You tell me."

Shizuo shrugged.

"Anyway, whoever tried to off you will probably make a move soon. Just use your sources to-"

"Are you telling me how to do my own job?"

"Looks like you need the help."

Shizuo was prepared for an attack but he was taken aback when Izaya burst out laughing.

"It does look that way, doesn't it!"

Izaya abandoned the suitcases and settled in front of the laptop, stretching his finger dramatically.

"You back to the land of the sane?"

"Indeed. Now, let us see what is going on, who is hating on me and who I have to get rid of for good."

Izaya realized that he wanted Shizuo by his side. Not so much as a protector, he was not about to accept that, but as an audience. Izaya's ego was bruised and he needed a way of making up for the sudden blow. He typed some and then folded his hands, eyes shimmering in the monitor's glow.

"Look at that, my 'death' is the topic of the day. Hmm…plenty of gloating going on. Crying fangirls, as is to be expected."

"So this is the chatting thing I hear about."

"I'm logged in invisibly, an extra precaution but still."

Izaya could not see Kida which meant that he was using another alias or pursuing some other online route or on the actual streets. Or of course loitering about. In which case Izaya would make sure that he regretted it immensely.

"You know these people?"

"Yes and no."

Shizuo could hardly keep up with the fast sliding rows of characters on the screen.

"You mean you kinda know them or…?"

"I know some. But not the rest. It doesn't matter, I'm just getting a feel of the field, so to speak."

Izaya was breaching his rule of not mixing Shizuo with work matters but he did not even care.

"How can you tell that they're telling the truth and not just making up stuff?"

"I can't. Not at first, at least. I gather raw material this way and then sift it at my leisure."

"Doesn't that take like forever?"

"Maybe now you can appreciate that I am indeed a busy man."

"Ah…"

"At times I get a gut feeling of what leads to follow. Another way of going about it is to make something of a word cloud or weighted list to get an idea of the rate of dispersal of each rumor. But of course that in itself means little. Commonly held rumors are often nothing more than that. There are also the idiotic ideas that I can discard off hand. Like this here, 'Heiwajima is also gone, maybe it was a double suicide'."

Shizuo blinked.

"A double suicide…? That is pretty fucked up."

"Trolls got to troll. Or maybe it's a genuinely dumb person. The internet has a very high percentage of stupid people."

"Trolls?"

"Individuals that get their kicks from being annoying pricks online."

"Like you? Except you're like that normally."

"So funny."

"'Without Izaya I just can't live.' Is this person 'trolling'?"

"No clue. For their sake let us hope so."

"You don't know who this is?"

"It could be a great number of people. 'Has anyone seen Izaya's blonde kid? He also disappeared, maybe he's the one that bombed the apartment?' At least Masaomi is being quiet, I was afraid he'd cause too much a commotion."

"Don't these people have better things to do?"

"Like going around beating the living shit out of everything that moves, Heiwajima Shizuo style?"

"I mean like hobbies and the like."

"Wasting an absurd amount of time online already qualifies as a hobby. Oh look who just joined the party. Good old Mikado. 'I hope that Izaya-san is alright'. Really now."

Shizuo could not see how Izaya managed to keep track of all the rapid chatter, staring at the screen was giving him a headache and he was glad that Izaya had taken to himself to read out loud the juicy parts.

"How about the guy that's looking for Long Cat? Is he there?"

"Tsukumoya Shinichi can always be found online but you have to go to him/her/it first. I'll check him later."

"Cause he might figure out it's you? And that'd be bad."

Izaya was too focused to even be angry at the jab.

"Precisely. You'd think that plausibility is a flawless standard but not quite. For example, is the fact that there is a headless rider loose in the streets of Tokyo at all plausible? And yet it is real. It's funny how much information gathering is like a flow chart. Do you know what a flow chart is, Heiwajima-san?"

"Kinda. Tell me."

Shizuo had the clear impression that Izaya was in a mood of expounding. Some people might fish for compliments, Orihara Izaya fished for opportunities for going off on ego trips.

"A flow chart is a diagram representing a process of decision making in which options are connected by arrows. For example, you start with a problem along the lines of 'printer is not working' will have 'is printer plugged to the electricity' as an option. If 'yes' then you move to, say, 'is printer connected to computer' and so forth. In my humble opinion flows charts would make better 'help' tip for computer related issues than the bullet point option that makes it difficult to follow multiple possibilities simultaneously. Like this."

Izaya showed him an example on the screen. Shizuo rubbed his chin.

"I get it now. But is getting information like this?"

"In a way. A good informant is not usually he who gets a major scoop as much as the one who followed the right arrows with the information that is floating for anyone to grasp. For example, there are many people logged into this chat room and the public forum is open to everyone. But rest assured only a few will be able to filter the noise to get to the truth. That's where I come in."

Shizuo nodded. He goaded Izaya on with the nod.

"I see."

"Part of it is of course instinct. How many would seriously follow 'yes' to something apparently as self-refuting as Celty's existence? You have to think outside the box but more than that you need something more than just intellect. This is why Dotachin completely fails. He has a knack for believing the wrong information. It is even astonishing, by pure accident he should get it right at least on occasion. Of course he knows that trusting me too much is unwise and he is smart enough to know that completely disregarding what I've got to say may be as unwise. But to the question, 'Should I believe Izaya that Yagiri Namie created Dollars' he followed the 'yes' arrow. Which directly led to a sharp high heel hitting him and to much pain. Cause and effect, Heiwajima-san. Cause and effect."

Shizuo ignored the computer screen. He was not one to multitask.

"You let people screw themselves over."

"I exploit people's weaknesses, yes."

"Got a list of suspects yet?"

"The usual ones. But I have a bit of a predicament."

"A what?"

Izaya jumped to his feet, stretched and picked up the phone.

"Reception? I need a swivel chair and I want it yesterday. On the double."

Izaya walked up and down until it arrived and then readily perched himself.

"So much better. 'Predicament', Heiwajima-san. It means that I have a problem in my hands. My prime suspect just so happens to be a person who knows that I am not in Tokyo. Namely Kida Masaomi. And why did he get to that hardly enviable pole position? Very simple: he hates me intensely and would love to get rid of me. On the other hand, he knows that he needs me. So for the time being, based on these both coordinates that meet at point 'Kida didn't do it', I'll write him off the list."

"Just for the time being?"

"If I have new data then I'll act on it. Now, something is bothering me. Why isn't whoever did it on the move? It's not as if this is a person that is afraid of causing a lot of chaos so I hardly think s/he/it would lie down in the shadows. So X (to save time) may be waiting to make sure that I am indeed dead. Which immediately makes me think of two suspects: Mikado and Tsukumoya Shinichi. Both are smart enough to wait it out and make sure. But I think that creepo can be removed from the list."

"Why? Doesn't he hate you?"

"Of course. But s/he/it wouldn't get off on actually physically eliminating me. No point. He needs to beat me in the arena where he excels, information gathering and manipulating. The day Tsukumoya Shinichi finds a kernel of information that I failed to see and makes sure that I know that he knows then to s/he/it I am as good as 'dead'. I actually think he might be sad now, if I'm dead then he'll never know for sure that he could beat me."

Shizuo nodded.

"And the other one?"

"Ryugamine Mikado. 'Would Mikado kill me?' 'yes'. No doubt about that, he'd probably kill just about anyone that is not Anri. And even that, give the boy some time and you may see him realize that he has to get rid of her for 'the greater good'. The question is not would he kill me, is has the tried. Mikado wouldn't act without a perceived reason. In other words, he wouldn't kill me unless he believed that he had a reason to do it. Something specific. Just hating me isn't enough. But no one can quite tell what Mikado would view as a reason. All it would take is for someone to whisper into his ear that I'm hurting poor Masaomi."

"So basically plenty of people would dare to kill you. I thought you said otherwise just a while ago."

Izaya smiled wickedly, lacing his hands together and resting his chin on them.

"That's a point in which I differ from Mikado. I know reality and change my tactics to fit it. Mikado is not the type to blow up things as much as he is to make people disappear. Why blow up my apartment when a stab in a dark alley would fit the purpose so much better? More, stabbing me repeatedly would kill me for sure. Mikado would make sure he saw the body, he might even toss it into Tokyo Bay. He wouldn't make it a show unless he made public my 'crimes' in some way. In other words…whoever did it likes attention. To make a fuss. Which leads me to one question: what exactly did Aoba tell you?"

"The Shark kid?"

"The one and only. Try to remember."

"Like I said, something about changes and the world."

Izaya spun slowly.

"Hmm…interesting. What do you think of when you think of 'the world'?"

"The planet, I guess."

"Pretty blue planet as seen in those space pictures? I thought so. The interpretation is very telling. You are into natural things as it is."

"Isn't that what everyone thinks of?"

"Not at all. To me 'the world' that comes to mind immediately is the realm of human interactions and perceived phenomena. Atmospheric elements and the like are only relevant insofar as they affect the species either collectively or individually. To me if a tree falls and no one ever finds out about it then it did not fall at all. Which is not to say that I am not concerned with the environment, I fully support a sensible policy in that area but not out of some respect for our planet. I care for the environment because it is my support system and one that I need to survive. My approach is teleological."

"Point being?"

"The point is, what does Aoba mean when he says 'the world'?"

"Dunno. But probably not the planet…"

"Precisely. If his concept of 'the world' matches mine then these changes he spoke of could very well be my demise."

"Yeah…that makes a lot of sense."

Izaya twirled a pen. Very fast, blurring in the air.

"Have you heard of 'confirmation bias'?"

"What's that?"

"It's the greatest sin an informant can commit. The very human tendency to follow information that confirms a belief while unconsciously disregarding all sets of evidence that contradict it. You see it all the time. It explains answered prayer, you count the times your mental request was 'answered' and forget all the times it was not. It also explains superstition. The result is a complete skewing of perception if one is not careful."

"And that ties up with Shark kid because…?"

"It is highly convenient for me that Aoba is behind this. Perhaps too convenient. Of course, 'Would Aoba kill me' can be safely answered with a 'yes'. I believe that he is the most likely to have done it, he hates me more than enough and even seems to have hinted as much to you. But am I thinking along these lines because I do not want Kida or Mikado to be responsible? I wonder."

"Does it matter much? Are these kids your friends or something?"

Shizuo wondered if they were invited to the fabled nabe party.

"Friends? Heh, no. But Kida is my greatest human asset. He is too valuable, I must at all times keep him in check lest he finds out just how much I rely on his talents. Unfortunately, if he tried to kill me then I will take him down. As for Mikado, it would be just as bad. I can't trust Kida when he is concerned and if I had to kill Mikado then I suspect that I'd never be able to use Kida again. I'd have to kill Kida as well. So both possibilities are lose/lose to me. It follows that I would be reluctant to pursue these and follow other lines of thought…namely Aoba."

"So because you want him to be it you're afraid of thinking he did?"

"I am afraid of letting my bias interfere with my reasoning. And of course it could be someone else entirely."

"Aren't you missing something here?"

Izaya narrowed his eyes.

"Such as?"

"Such as, what if it's an accident? Maybe no one's out to get you."

Izaya almost started. Such a possibility had not even occurred to him.

"Are you saying that of all the many apartments in Tokyo mine just happened to accidentally explode?"

"Well, it could happen."

"It is highly unlikely."

"But not impossible."

"True. But my apartment is less likely to explode than most. The maintenance is topnotch. Unlike those slums where you are happy to live."

"Yeah but my 'slum' didn't blow up…you're the one without a home now. Sucks being you?"

"Gloat some, why don't you."

"You kinda like this Shiki guy, don't you?"

Izaya blinked rapidly.

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"Slept with him?"

In a split second Izaya decided to try something.

"No."

"You're lying."

"Not this again! Your magical sixth sense again?"

"Nah, you told me."

Izaya blinked again.

"No I didn't. What are you talking about?"

"Yes you did. You just don't remember."

"I keep track of everything I say."

"Not when you're feverish you don't."

Izaya grew considerably paler.

"What did I say, exactly?"

"How does it go again, 'divulging vital information to an enemy' is stupid. Or some shit like that. I may let you know one of these days."

"That's an infringement on my privacy."

"How is that any different from the shit you do normally? Except you're the one getting the short end of the stick now."

Izaya had to refrain a clipped remark.

"I don't have the time to waste with this now."

Shizuo picked up the laptop and stored it away.

"You're taking a break now. Not like you were doing much anyway."

"How would you even know."

"Was Shiki the first guy you did with it?"

Izaya tapped his foot on the floor, impatiently.

"It's none of your business."

Shizuo ignored the almost visible annoyance and impatience beaming from Izaya.

"It must have meant something to you or you'd talk about it. I mean, you had no problems telling me about your first girl so-"

"That's it, I'm out of here."

"I'm on to something, that's why you're freaking out."

Izaya was already on his way to the door and he had to force himself to turn back. He folded his arms.

"Ah yes, you've found my deep dark secret. Whatever will I do know. Truth is, Shiki-san and I have an exchange diary. The love is deep!"

"Make fun of it all you want. So you have a thing for this guy, what's the big deal-"

"Get something through that thick head of yours. I don't 'have a thing' for Shiki-san or for anyone else. Got it?"

Izaya went as far as jabbing his index finger in Shizuo's chest with the last words.

"You're really freaking out. What's the big deal?"

Izaya shrugged with an effort.

"Okay fine. If you want to believe some silly theory then go right ahead. I can't stop you from believing in stupid things."

"Really?"

"Do as you like."

"'kay. I'll ask what Shiki thinks about it."

Izaya gasped.

"What?"

"If you're fine with whatever then I'll give him a call. Ask him what he thinks about you having a crush or whatever it is."

Shizuo could see Izaya switch into predatory mode right before his eyes. It was a certain tensing of his entire frame and a glint to red blood eyes.

"You wouldn't dare."

"If you're looking for this I took it a while ago."

Shizuo brandished the switchblade. Izaya nearly jumped.

"How did you get it?"

"You don't see much around you when you park in front of the computer. I just took it while you weren't looking."

Izaya threw up his arms.

"What do you want from me now?"

"Simple. Just tell me about your first time with this Shiki."

"What does it even matter!"

"When you're getting information about someone, don't you study stuff like what kind of sexual partner they like?"

"Whatever, let's just get this over with and put an end to your delusions."

"Don't lie to me. I'll know. If you do lie I'll call Shiki."

"I'll be ever so truthful."

"Who was the first guy you did it with?"

Shizuo motioned him to bed and Izaya sat on a corner. Izaya considered all of his options and reached the conclusion that it was a case of damage control at this point.

"Shiki-san. Are you happy now?"

"And when was that?"

"Shortly after I finished high school."

"And why?"

"Why what?"

"Why did you have sex with him. With you sex has a bunch of reasons."

"I hardly remember."

Shizuo reached for his phone.

"Okay, okay, calm down. It's coming back to me now."

"Good."

Izaya was silent for a while. He did not want to indulge in reminiscence but there was no other option.

"Because I admired him."

"Why?"

"'Why', 'why', you're like an annoying kid. I suppose that I admired Shiki because he seemed to always so in control of everything."

Shizuo nodded.

"And how did you go from business, whatever that is, to rolling around in bed?"

"I asked him for it."

"Just like that?"

"Just like that. Surprised?"

"Kinda. Thought it would be more complicated. You love your mind games as it is."

"Indeed I do but Shiki-san is on another league altogether."

Shizuo pieced together a new image of Izaya.

"And how did it go?"

Izaya smiled faintly at the memory.

"I couldn't walk for a whole day afterward but it was worth it. More than worth it. No pain no gain, as the saying goes."

"So you took the first step."

"With domineering people you have to take the initiative if you want to have a saying edgewise."

"Interesting. Didn't know you admired anyone."

Izaya shrugged. He resented 'interesting' applied to his person, it placed him in the same tier as those he examined. It lowered him.

"And Shiki-san is very sexy. I knew that I wanted him the moment I saw him."

Shizuo took a drag, blowing out smoke thoughtfully.

"And you trust your first impressions?"

"Of course. Also, there's something about experienced men. Shiki-san knows what to do in bed."

Shizuo puffed in silence for a while.

"You know, I don't really like it when you talk about other men like that."

"What? First you ask me about it then you complain about the answer?"

"Why do you think it's like that?"

"Like what? How should I know why you don't like whatever."

"Isn't that part of your job?"

Izaya rolled his eyes.

"Okay, fine. I'd say that it threatens your position as an alpha male and unconsciously you can't help but dislike it."

"That's your best guess?"

"What else is there?"

"You're not trying very hard, are you."

Izaya thought about it.

"Maybe you're the kind that just doesn't like the thought that someone you've had sex with prefers another person. Hurts your 'manly pride' or something along those lines."

"You think that's it? You're pretty much saying the same thing in different words."

"I don't know. I can't understand you, you're like a wrench that keeps getting jamming my mechanism at random intervals. I have no clue what goes in that brutish mind of yours."

"Try."

"You're at a sensitive person at heart and your delicate heart can't handle it!"

"And why don't you want this Shiki to find out that you like him?"

"Because a) I don't like him, how many times do I have to repeat myself and b) it would upset the balance of my working relationship with him."

"B), huh. A) isn't true anyway."

"Since you're so interested on the subject, let me tell you something. Having sex with someone one 'loves' may be all about 'loving' but having sex with someone one admires is an ego trip. And I admire Shiki-san."

"So basically you're selfish as ever?"

"Precisely."

"You didn't seem too happy about him just now."

"Of course not, I'm in a horrible pinch and you're not cutting me any slack."

"We're not exactly buddies."

Izaya sprawled himself in bed.

"I know that."

A chime nearly had Izaya jumping out of his skin.

"Calm down for a sec. It's just room service."

Shizuo opened the door to a masseur. Izaya eyed the newcomer suspiciously. It annoyed him considerably that Shizuo could make calls literally behind his back without his even noticing, it was almost as bad as his switchblade being confiscated. But Izaya ended up lying on a special table and in no time he was floating in the air. Shizuo watched him visibly relax by the second and chuckled at the sight.

"Ah, tip the man! That was nice."

"Feel less jumpy?"

Izaya stretched and wrapped himself in a fluffy white robe. To Shizuo he looked more like a kitty than ever.

"I'm in a stressful situation."

"It's probably your fault."

"See, this is why you're a killjoy."

"I'm not the one with no friends."

Izaya rolled on his back.

"Whatever."

"Was sleeping with me that bad?"

"Hmm…not really. You've got the raw material, with your body you don't even have to do anything to be a good fuck."

"I don't mean the sex. I mean actually sleeping."

Izaya shrugged.

"I don't really know. I am not conscious when I am sleeping."

"Yeah, but that's kind of the point. You snuggled with me in bed."

Izaya made a show of rolling his eyes.

"So what, I was asleep. I didn't know whether it was you or someone else-"

"I know. That's what I'm saying."

"I don't follow."

"You say you don't need anyone but you cuddle when you're asleep. It means that you try to reach out for someone when you're sleeping in that empty bed of yours…so you really are lonely and kind of sad."

"Yeah, yeah. I'm looking for true love down deep. You've found me out, whatever will I do now!"

"Acting like a bitch doesn't make your case, you know."

"Will you go away already!"

"I'm not going anywhere until I get all the answers I want."

"I know you're up to something. Don't think I haven't figured that up, I just don't know what exactly."

"Like you know that someone bombed your apartment?"

"Someone did bomb my apartment. Are you confessing to plotting something?"

Izaya tried to toss the question without showing any anxiety.

"I'm not confessing anything. For all you know it was an accident and you're spinning your wheels for no good reason."

"Aha. It could be that you dragged me on that awful boat ride on purpose to get me sick and then play a sympathetic card by taking care of me with bonus points of having me tell you things against my will."

Shizuo blinked a few times.

"You better watch your paranoia. There's no way I could do all that."

"It is within the realm of possibility."

"What and an accidental explosion isn't?"

Izaya's entire body seemed to twitch.

"It's not an accident, I know as much. Because Shiki-san said-"

"And he wouldn't lie to you?"

"Why would he?"

Shizuo took his time smoking a cigarette and watching Izaya clench and unclench his hands repeatedly.

"Ever heard of, what's it called again, 'confirmation bias'?"

Izaya did jump at this point.

"Because I don't want Shiki-san to be behind it I didn't follow a lead that could take me to that conclusion. Is that you're saying?"

"Have you considered it in that light?"

Izaya had not. And that alone was a defeat.

"I did consider him a suspect."

"But you didn't think about this bias thing. Why not?"

"Because confirmation bias is at its strongest when you are not aware of it. In fact, it only works if you are unaware of it."

"Yeah but didn't you think of it?"

Izaya paced back and forth. The robe swept open and floated around his revealed body, Izaya did not notice it.

"The greatest motivator of confirmation bias is emotional reinforcement."

"In other words…you like the guy."

Izaya halted and bit his lower lip, deep in thought.

"It does not make any sense, he could kill me easily in a thousand other ways. Unless- unless he wanted me here in Okinawa. To remove me from the scene and take over my turf completely. If so-"

Izaya lurched to the cell phone.

"Masaomi? I know, your time's not up yet- that's not it. Do not look into Shiki-san. It's good news for you, I bet you're not overly eager to do it in the first place. Go underground as much as you can. And be very careful. I mean it. What?"

Izaya spun around and reached for the laptop. Shizuo allowed it. In no time Izaya was scanning the screen and full swing in multitasking, talking on the phone and scrolling madly. Perched on the swivel chair.

"I see it, yes. But isn't this just what Mikado would do if he wanted to cover his tracks? Oh, he told you he didn't do it! My, I am completely convinced now! Are you familiar with 'confirmation bias'? Good. I'll contact you later."

Shizuo peered over his shoulder into the screen.

"A manifesto?"

"Dollars official site- now that's a contradiction right there- announcing that the organization condemns the 'act of violence' against my person."

"I see. So you think that this does more to prove the guy behind Dollars did it than clearing him."

Izaya ignored the message altogether.

"'Would Shiki-san lie to me coldly and seek to destroy me in an elaborate scheme?' 'yes.'"

A forlorn note to his voice.

"You don't like that idea."

"Of course not. Shiki-san is a power player, I don't like my odds against someone like that. At all."

"But that's not it, isn't it? This Mikado kid is pretty powerful too. It's more like…you feel betrayed and it sucks."

"Stop the psychoanalysis babble. Shit."

"Why are you calling off your investigation on Shiki?"

"Because if he is behind it the only thing I have going for me is that he does not know of my suspicions. I doubt that Masaomi would put his neck on the line anyway but it's better to be safe than sorry. And it's not as if he'd be able to find anything important in this case anyway."

Izaya slumped on the chair. Shizuo turned it slowly until he was facing Izaya.

"You know, I've spent a lot of time thinking about you. Ever since we first met."

"Now that's not healthy. Obsessing over someone you absolutely loathe."

"It isn't healthy at all. But that's the way it is."

"Nothing makes any sense. You're acting far too weird."

Izaya rubbed the bridge of his nose.

"I don't like it either but I always end up going back to you."

"In all fairness you do have reasons for hating me as much as you do."

"Why don't you try seeing through my eyes instead of hovering above like you're too smart for us mere mortals?"

Izaya gave him one hard stare.

"I can't do that. You're too bizarre."

"I'm pretty normal. Either way, as things stand, I may be the closest thing you have to an ally at this point."

"Ah."

"Did you think about Shiki when we did it?"

"What does it matter to you. You seemed to like it just fine."

Shizuo puffed some smoke at him and immediately Izaya was doubled up on the chair, coughing.

"Fucking hell-"

"I want to know and you're going to tell me."

Izaya wiped tears from his eyes, smoke still stinging.

"What, and if you don't like the answer you'll go all crazy rapist on me?"

"Do you like it when the people you do it are thinking about someone else?"

"I could not possibly care less."

Shizuo nodded as if this settled something.

"So that's the way you are. Even with Shiki?"

"When did this become 'The Izaya and Shiki-san' show anyway? Do you have some voyeur tendencies and get off on imagining me with him?"

"You don't really have a clue, do you."

"I've been saying for a while now that I don't get you. What, it's Shiki-san you have a thing for? Everything is so weird that it wouldn't surprise me at all."

A few moments of silence.

"You still haven't answered me."

"Shiki-san thinks of me when we do it."

"So you want it to be personal between you two."

Izaya made as if to jump off the chair and Shizuo kept him in place just by applying some pressure to his chest. A reminder of the discrepancy of strength. Izaya's glare was sharp and cutting.

"If I did not know better I'd think that you are jealous."

"Did you think of him when you did with me?"

Frustration added up to a feeling of helplessness.

"Oh yeah, I was drawing mental comparisons the entire time."

"Are you trying to provoke me?"

"You figure it out."

"That's not very smart of you."

"I'm getting sick and tired of this. Stop playing games with me already!"

Shizuo smoked some more.

"Next time you'll be thinking of me and of me alone. Think about how much you hate me, I don't care. But you'll be thinking of me."

"The rape card again?"

"Didn't have to rape you the first time around."

"Tch. Whatever."

Shizuo kissed him, softly. Izaya wanted to claw Shizuo's eyes out.

"Raping you would be too easy anyway."

"I hope you're enjoying your fucked up revenge, Heiwajima-san."

"Drop the '-san', it's getting annoying. Worse than 'Shizu-chan'."

Izaya glowed as if suddenly vindicated.

"You hate my pet name for you."

"Want me to 'Orihara-san' you?"

Izaya folded his arms.

"Hmm…actually, that may be a good idea. Do give it a go."

"You're kind of cute, Iza-chan."

"Trying to rile me up?"

"It fits you. You're small and pretty. That spells '-chan' to me."

Izaya shrugged.

"If you expect me to get all upset you have another thing coming."

"So I can '-chan' you. Good, that settles it."

"Yeah, yeah."

"Imagine you knew you had two weeks to live, what would you-"

"Are you threatening me?"

"Again, watch the paranoia. I'm on this to ask you questions."

"So it is purely hypothetical? Forget it, you don't know what that means anyway."

"It's just a question."

"Suddenly, Ikigami. What would I do…what would I do. Spend some time with my sisters. Read a lot. Do some traveling. Get laid. And then I'd kill myself."

"Kill yourself? Why?"

"I wouldn't let something kill me. If I can't fight it- and in this scenario of yours I can't- then I'd take matters into my own hands."

Shizuo cupped his cheek.

"I believe you. You're very afraid of death but you're more afraid of being without control."

"Being afraid of death is hardwired into all living creatures. It's a good thing. That's how, you know, a person stays alive."

"Yeah but you have all those weird ideas of living forever."

"Wouldn't you like to live forever?"

"Nah. It'd get tiresome. And the people I like would all die anyway."

"I am fine on my own."

"This god complex of yours, it just means that you are afraid of being weak."

"I liked it better when you were chasing me and throwing random objects at me."

"What do you use this thingy for, by the way?"

Shizuo dangled the switchblade, studying it with a puzzled expression and holding it between the tips of his fingers.

"I have it exclusively to cut you up. Don't you feel special now."

"Do you ever hate yourself?"

Izaya rolled his eyes.

"Of course not. I'm all ego."

"But you hate your weakness and it's part of who you are."

"Oh give me a break. That's just guessing, it's not even an assumption."

"Izaya, didn't you realize it yet that if you do become this godly creature or whatever shit you want, you won't be yourself anymore?"

Izaya blinked.

"I do not at all follow."

"You're a complicated guy. Smart, dangerous, all that. But you're also a bit like a kitty and you get all hyper when you're upset and afraid. You can't just erase all that and be the same person."

"I thought you wanted to ask me things and not lecture me at length. Are you going Mikado on me? Just when I think it could not possibly get any worse it just does. At least it's not raining."

"There's a typhoon on the way. Heard it on the radio."

Izaya chuckled bitterly.

"There you go, it's just as they say! The moment you say that 'at least it's not raining' it starts raining! Brilliant! Typhoon, you say! Why not add an earthquake, the bloody apocalypse and the end of times for extra pizzazz! No need to even wait for 2012."

"You're not the world."

"Again, I know that. I'm not a solipsist, be that in an ontological or epistemological sense."

"Huh?"

"It means that I believe in the existence of reality outer to my self and that I can know this reality."

"Sure you do but your weird humor can be telling. If you're screwed up then the world might as well be screwed up, that kind of thought."

"So what?"

"So imagine if you really become this god person, whatever it is. Then what?"

"Then what?"

"What would you do then."

"Anything I wanted."

"And you'd be happy?"

Izaya's eyes gave off a lurid glow that reminded Shizuo of burning blood.

"But of course! I could will you into dying a very gruesome death while I dance around and giggle happily. It would in fact be the best day of my life."

"Except your life would go on…and on…and on."

"That only means that I win."

Shizuo reached the last cigarette in his pack and proceeded to smoke it, slowly. Until the tension between them was about to reach a critical point. Izaya seemed bent on waiting for a reply to react with all the vicious intent he had sizzling inside.

"Massage man was pretty neat but you're about to snap again. Guess you can't just chill out like Long Cat."

"And whose fault is that?"

"Tell you what, how about you let me give you a massage."

"Marvelous idea! Why don't you go ahead and break my bones."

Shizuo planted his large hands on Izaya's shoulder that tensed up immediately.

"Calm down. I won't hurt you."

Izaya sighed despite himself as Shizuo undid knots of almost painfully tense tendons and muscle.

"Hey, you're actually good at this…better than the massage man. Secret talent?"

"Not really."

Izaya did not even complain as Shizuo moved him to bed.

"Hmm…"

Shizuo worked his way down his back, slowly. Adding a few kisses and sucking on warming skin between slender shoulder blades.

"If you let me do you I won't confiscate your laptop anymore."

"Really?"

"Really."

Izaya considered it coolly. It would not be the first time he used sex to further an agenda but much was at stake. Izaya slipped out of the already half removed robe.

"So you want to fool around?"

"We did it your way the last time so this time around I'll do it my way."

"You had me wearing a condom for no good reason. That's not at all my way."

"Just being fair."

Shizuo lost no time in stripping. He rolled Izaya on his back, a large body hovering above Izaya's. Izaya felt intimidated and reacted by kissing him deeply lest his fear showed. Shizuo was not in the mood for letting off the hook easily and he made sure that he prepared Izaya with almost agonizing slowness. Izaya would have told him to hurry up and get it over with but he was more than apprehensive about the outcome.

"Fair, you say."

"Yeah."

Izaya rolled his eyes.

"Whatever."

"Tell me if this hurts."

"Wait, wait. Condom's by the bedside table."

Shizuo blinked as if he had no clue what Izaya at all meant.

"And? Don't feel like using one."

"Good thing I'm not a chick, huh."

"Yeah. Let me know if this hurts."

Izaya took a deep breath, braced himself and had to blink away tears of pain upon penetration. Even though Shizuo splurged on lube.

"Not- one bit-"

Shizuo waited a few moments. Partially to let Izaya adjust.

"You'll have to put up with it."

"You are absolutely awful at dirty talk."

"Maybe. Doesn't matter."

Izaya forced himself to relax and smirk. He was still very much in pain and all the more unwilling to let it show.

"Oh? Because you've got the goods, so to speak?"

"Something like that."

Shizuo pinned him down and got a firm hold of Izaya's hips. Izaya slipped into the momentum easily and wrapped his slender legs around Shizuo who proceeded to suck at the hollow of his neck.

"No leaving marks now."

"Tough luck."

"Tch, you must think you're amazing or something. I don't belong to you so drop the caveman marking ritual."

Izaya did not at all care for the smile on Shizuo's face.

"You're mine when I'm the one fucking you."

The ready made protest ebbed away as Shizuo angled his thrusts slightly and Izaya bit a finger to keep himself from moaning.

"I-za-chan? Who are you thinking of now?"

"-screw you-"

"Thought so."

Shizuo kept both of Izaya's hands locked in one of his so that he had him virtually immobilized. Which did not keep Izaya from squirming and closing his eyes as the pace picked up and his body rocked in tandem. Abruptly, Shizuo stopped. Buried to the hilt. Izaya clicked with his tongue, his chest heaving. Shizuo noticed that the nipples stood out and he was tempted to suck on them.

"Don't go stopping now!"

"Then look at me. Don't close your eyes."

Izaya glared with vicious intent. Lust never made him pliant but sharpened his need for affirmation while bypassing natural safety devices such as not upsetting a partner that was strong enough to literally snap his spine without much of an effort.

"Fine. I'll look at you- all the way- and think about how I'll kill you once I get a chance."

Shizuo picked up speed. There was something arousing in Izaya's unfaltering antagonism. Izaya bit his lip as orgasm approached. Pent up stress carried him onward and he could not even bring himself to let his mind trail away. Shizuo was everywhere, his presence oppressively real. He tasted his own blood from too much biting and sweat that trickled to his broken lips. Shizuo drank up the sight.

True to his word Izaya kept his gaze fully on Shizuo and only broke off the teasing smile as his climax burst on him. Shizuo hesitated briefly – smearing his load on Izaya seemed like a wonderful idea – but ended up releasing deep inside him. For a while there was only the sound of panting as they caught their breath.

"You know, I thought I hated you before but I was wrong. Compared to how I feel now, that was nothing."

"Guess I'll keep 'Iza-chan'-ing you, then."

Izaya was considerably surprised when Shizuo kissed his forehead. He scrambled leverage by making as if to crawl toward the laptop but gave up on that altogether. Instead he curled on his side and pulled up the covers.

"Aren't you hilarious."

He was not planning on sleeping so it was with a start that he woke up to find himself in Shizuo's arms. Izaya nearly jumped off the bed.

"Don't go falling now."

"What the hell do you think you're doing?"

Shizuo patted his head much to Izaya's dismay.

"Nothing much. Like I said, you cuddle."

Izaya rolled his eyes but decided not to comment. At times silent scorn carried the point better. Outside he could hear the wind hissing loudly. Izaya hobbled to the laptop, already going through options on his mind. The screen remained black.

"It's not working. Did you do something to my laptop?"

Izaya was still a bit sore, standing was not easy.

"Huh? Didn't touch it. Sorry if I got a bit rough-"

"Never mind that!"

Izaya flicked a switch but the semi darkness remained.

"Blackout, I guess. Typhoon and all that."

Shizuo gestured toward the windows. Izaya's eyebrows twitched.

"And the battery is dead. Why must every single thing go wrong."

More out of spite than anything else he reached for the cell phone and prepared to vent on Kida. Instead of a signal he got muddled static.

"Try the landline?"

Izaya ignored Shizuo altogether, he was suspicious of landlines enough as it was and so much more in a hotel that belonged to Shiki's group. He tossed on some clothes and would have raced out the room were it not the fact it still hurt. Shizuo followed him to the reception desk.

"Sir, it's the typhoon. Mobile phones can't get through and the electricity is down-"

"Haven't you heard of generators?"

"The generator is reserved for basic functions and-"

"I don't think you understand. I have to use a computer with internet access. And I have to use a computer with internet access right now. Are you telling me that you don't have one in this entire hotel?"

The girl behind the counter flailed.

"All the computers and batteries are taken."

"This is ridiculous."

Izaya stormed away, heading for the lobby. Shizuo stopped him before he walked into the heavy rain and strong winds outside.

"Let go of me!"

"You can't go out. The wind alone would sweep you away and you were sick."

Izaya gave him a smoldering glare of pure rage. A sudden gust of howling wind snapping a palm tree across the street convinced him to take Shizuo's advice. They ended up sitting at a semi dark hotel bar, two cups of steaming tea in front of them. Izaya nearly disappeared into the seat in pure dejection.

"Stupid weather."

"Izaya, imagine that you're on a deserted island and you can only have a person with you. Who would you take? And it can't be any of your sisters."

Izaya picked up his cup and blew on the steam.

"Another of your crazy scenarios?"

"Yeah."

"I wouldn't bring any of my sisters anyway. What kind of a brother would I be if I dragged one of them to a deserted island?"

Shizuo blinked, somewhat surprised.

"Good point."

"Not to mention I'd have to split them up. They wouldn't like that at all. And I doubt any of them would care to get stuck with me for an extended period of time."

Shizuo added sugar to his tea and mused.

"You're not a bad guy. Since you're thinking of them so much. Who would you bring, then?"

Izaya placed his cup in front of Shizuo.

"Drink it as it's meant to be, without sweeteners."

"'kay."

"Who would I bring…I'm actually not sure. Maybe Kida."

"The blonde kid?"

"Yes. Kida Masaomi."

"Why? And I like it better with sugar."

Izaya shrugged.

"He'd keep me amused at any rate. And he's smart enough to bounce off ideas with. But he'd be useless on physical challenges like building a shelter or getting food. Also, he dislikes me so he might very well decide to get rid of me."

"Better to pick someone you like."

"Shiki-san is out of question. Highly territorial and if there is only one person to dominate he would probably go into overkill. It would turn into Lord of the Flies."

"So…who would it be?"

"How about Dotachin?"

"Kadota?"

"He is funny, especially when he's not trying, not an idiot and he would be of some use in taming the great outdoors. Shinra is also an option, great if I hurt myself in some way but then again he might very well just let me die. No perfect candidate, I'm afraid."

"I guess."

"Hmm…I suppose I could bring Namie."

"Goat woman?"

"Heh, yes. Namie tends to keep her cool, she knows about how to make medicine and how to find useful herbs and which of those can be safely eaten. She is smart and while not the most collaborative of people, I'm sure that in such an environment she would realize that sticking together would benefit us both."

"Ah…"

Izaya folded his hands as he expanded on the mental picture.

"This island of yours, can it support more people? Are there enough resources?"

"I guess."

"You guess? This is your hypothetical scenario, at least put some effort into it."

"Yeah, it could support more people but you're only allowed to bring a person."

"Aha!"

Izaya nearly leaped across the table much to Shizuo's surprise. But Izaya was not about to let Shizuo remain in the dark much further, after all he needed to rebound.

"No rule about not actually making more people, though. If I brought Namie there was always that option. Breed and get the kids to take most of the work load while I sit and relax in the sand."

"You don't like sand. And would you really start a family for that?"

"Not family, 'free labor'. Of course it might not pay off. It takes years for a human person to be actually useful, I would have to consider Yagiri genes getting passed – like uncle like nephew – and the potential for a rebellion of sorts down the road tips the scale against the whole idea. It'd be great to have some suckers keeping up a smoke signal at all times, though."

"You think your own kids would kill you?"

"Yes. Yes, I do. That's Freud for you."

"Kids like their parents. Usually, at least."

"The risk would be too high even if the thought of having free labor in such a scenario sounds so tempting. I just wanted to mess up with your rules by adding more people without actually going against the basic setting."

"So…let me see if I got this right, you'd use your kids as basically slaves to do stuff for you."

"I would consider the option but probably discard it."

Shizuo finished his overly sugared tea. Gashes of rainwater splattered the panoramic windows as if eager to break the glass. Izaya wrapped himself in his trademark coat and sighed under his breath. He hated the elements whenever they stood on his way.

"How about me?"

"What about you?"

"Why not take me with you to the deserted island."

Izaya rolled his eyes.

"Because we hate each other."

"Hmm…I'd still want to ask you questions. Think about it, I can build a shelter, get food and protect you from wild animals."

"This isn't even hypothetical anymore. Since I am stuck on an island with you."

"Okinawa isn't deserted…"

"For all practical purposes it is. No important people here."

"Yeah but that's a good thing. I think I'd be your safest bet."

"You'd turn me into your sex slave."

Izaya shivered.

"Nah, I wouldn't have to do that."

"What, you think you'd actually be able to have consensual sex with me?"

"Is it that big of a stretch? I've already done that. Twice."

"Only because the circumstances favored it."

"Then I'd make the 'circumstances favor it' again."

"How?"

"Dunno. Bribing you with food?"

Izaya burst out laughing.

"That might actually work!"

"I'd feed you anyway. Just bribe you with extra stuff. If you need to have sex to get food it's still rape."

"So true. But I'm a bit surprised that you have such high morals. With that said, between hypothetical and reality there is a world of difference."

"This is reality and I haven't raped you. Not too sure why you're so obsessed with the thought."

"It's rather obvious. You're violent, prone to going berserk and it would probably kill me. And, and to think that I just did it for no good reason. The irony."

Izaya sighed heavily and looked thoroughly depressed.

"You didn't seem to hate it."

"Doesn't matter, I wanted some computer time and alas, fate conspires against me."

"So you're saying you didn't hate it?"

"It wasn't a complete waste of time. At least you're good at it. But I got a feeling you were holding back a bit."

"Yeah. I don't want to hurt you."

"Right…"

Izaya was not at all convinced.

"If you could take four things with you to the island, what would they be? And it can't be stuff to use to get rescued."

"Hmm…writing material. A lifelong supply of canned food, the kind that doesn't need a can opener. A very well packed toolkit. And then it's a toss between fire making stuff and condoms, assuming I had Namie around."

"Do you sleep with this Goat Woman normally?"

Izaya laced his fingers.

"Guess. Use your hocus pocus to guess it."

"I can't just guess stuff, I only know when you're telling the truth or not."

Izaya made a show of being impressed, his eyes widening in mockery.

"Eh? Is that so. For your information I've never slept with her, no."

"Good."

"'Good'? What is that supposed to mean?"

"So you're not interested in her that way?"

"It may very well be the other way around."

Shizuo blinked.

"A woman isn't into you? What, she's a lesbian?"

Izaya cackled madly, stomping as his body shook.

"Are you for real? Oh dear. Namie isn't into sex, period. At least as far as I am aware of. But now that you planted seeds of lesbian fantasies in my mind I will never be able to look at lab coats the same way ever again."

"Ah…but you were planning on having kids with her in the deserted island."

"Only because Namie is a pragmatic woman through and through. Unfortunately, she is pragmatic enough to know that the statistics for childbirth outside of any health facilities rate dangerously high in terms of death toll for mothers to be. In other words, she would probably shoot down my plan not so much because she disagrees with having sex with me as much as because it would endanger her life."

"Kinda makes sense. And the condoms?"

Izaya shrugged.

"One can always hope. Maybe it would take a turn for the Blue Lagoon."

"Oh, I watched the movie. In the second one they have a kid and decide to remain on the island."

"You actually watched it? I would never imagine you watching a soppy romance from the 80's. And the sequel, too!"

"See, there are things you only get by talking."

Izaya raised his hands.

"I get your point. Don't tell me you're a fan of love stories."

"They're kinda neat every now and then."

Izaya smiled, for once without guile. Chin propped on the palm of his hand.

"Oh? Tell that to most girls and you'll land a date in no time. Show them your sensitive side."

"My what?"

"You like cats, it seems. That's part of it, too. Next time you want to convince a girl that you care tell her that you like kitties."

"You're giving me dating tips…? And you like fancy food, wouldn't think you'd be into canned food."

Izaya wrinkled his nose.

"I hate canned food but I hate starving to death considerably more. Knowing that I have enough food to survive would put my mind at ease."

"Yeah, I don't suppose you'd go around hunting or even fishing."

"Er, no. I might try but I doubt I'd be successful. Also, if I get sick I'll need food I can keep at by bedside table and not living food I'd have to catch. I suppose I could ask for an unlimited amount of salt- since your scenario is video game like in that it allows for nearly infinite quantities- but any kind of preserving needs food to be preserved. Not to mention canned food would remain edible even after a landslide. What I don't understand is how anyone would eat canned food outside of a deserted island."

"I think I'd bribe you with tuna."

Izaya raised one eyebrow.

"Are you forgetting the entire premise? Where would you find this tuna?"

"Fish for it in the ocean."

Izaya giggled.

"You do realize that tuna is a deep water fish? Then again…if this is you we're talking about you might very well be able to do it."

"Yeah. Are you saying it would work?"

"What, would I have sex with you for some juicy ootoro slabs? Why not. If it was anything like the other times then I wouldn't mind it too much."

"Really?"

"I suppose."

Izaya was about to add to his reasoning when the window suddenly shattered. The loud noise and the suddenness of it all froze him completely. Cold water, howling wind, a phone booth hurling through the air in his direction. He knew in a split second that he could not dodge it. Izaya closed his eyes and put up his hands out of instinct. Dimly he heard himself scream. Time passed. Nothing happened. Slowly, he peered through his fingers.

"Hey, you okay?"

Shizuo dropped the booth and took him away from the broken window pane. Izaya followed in a daze.

"Did you catch that in mid-air…?"

"Yeah. You don't look too hot."

Izaya felt considerably shaken. He barely heard the head waiter apologizing and he drank some hot cocoa without even tasting it. At length he noticed a crimson stain on Shizuo's sleeve.

"You're bleeding."

"Nah, no biggie. I'm used to this kind of thing."

Izaya opened his mouth, closed it again. Thought hard, focusing his mental resources on a single point to correct the unbalance of his anxiety.

"That thing could've have killed even you. In fact-"

Izaya walked around Shizuo and winced slightly at the sight of his back.

"Some glass got stuck."

"Some glass you say…did you cover for me?"

"Yeah. I guess."

Izaya narrowed his eyes.

"If you expect me to be all grateful and whatnot then I'll have to disappoint you. With that said, you better get those treated."

Izaya perched himself silently on a chair as he watched Shizuo go through first aid treatment. The cogs in his mind turning.



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