“Kill! Kill! Kill!” Low rumbling echoed from the walls of shabby looking buildings. The street was narrow with many turns which Izaya took every once in a while and Shizuo just couldn’t get him. They were running for, what it seemed, hours, when in reality it hardly took more than twenty minutes. It was Izaya’s fault. Who else but that damned flea!? How many times had Shizuo told him to stay out of Ikebukuro? He just would’t listen. Of course, he wouldn’t. Sometimes Shizuo wondered what was it all about with Izaya always messing with him, putting him on edge. Didn’t that parasite have better things to do? That question required no response. It was as clear as a day – the pest just found some sickening glee in screwing people’s lives. Shizuo felt a hot wave of anger washing him over.
“Stop, flea!” He shouted. “Stay where you are! Let me kill you to be sure you never come back in Ikebukuro!”
The dark slender figure in a good dozen meters ahead of him never turned around.
“Ha-ha, Shizu-chan,” came a too well-known sing-song voice, “what’s the point of our little play of tag if I give in?”
Shizuo made an angry sound resembling either a roar or a battle cry and ran even faster.
The street was growing more and more narrow. Ever and again Shizuo bumped into lamp posts, parked cars and buildings, crushing them and leaving wreckage and debris in his wake. Soon the street ended with a tall abandoned building which Izaya quickly ran into. The building looked as if it were going to collapse one minute or another. The yellow tape was screaming ‘danger’, desperately trying to prevent thrill-seekers from getting into the construction spot. Shizuo paid no attention to its forlorn warning and followed the pest.
“Kill! Kill! Kill!” Bare concrete walls resonated with that low menacing rumbling. The half-destroyed steps creaked threatening to fall apart under Shizuo’s weight. He, however, didn’t pay attention either to crumbling walls, to no good stairs or to collapsing ceiling. The only thing on his mind was Orihara Izaya. The information broker, the cause of 99.9% of all bad things happening to the city, to Shizuo himself. He hated that pest! And now then the disgusting flea stench made a path for him to find the pest and end it for good, Shizuo kept running upstairs to the roof.
The light came in the shape of an open door to the roof and Shizuo hurried through it. There he saw Izaya. With no way out, no exit, no nearby houses he was isolated from the whole world by the building height and by Shizuo in a doorway. The minute Shizuo looked at that always smirking smug face and for a fleeting moment seeing nothing but a frown which soon changed into a fake sneer, he knew. He knew it was the end. The end of their confrontation, of Izaya ruining Ikebukuro and Shizuo’s life! The end of him messing with people’s lives. A showdown. Shizuo shifted his gaze to a metal pole and, having picked it up, secured the door, making a hand-made loop through the padlock hasps.
Once again looking Izaya straight in the face, he made a step towards him.
“That’s it, flea,” he said in a strangely calm voice. “The game is over.”
“Oh, is it, Shizu-chan?” a mocking answer came followed by a switchblade thrown at him.
Shizuo dodged, the impulse made it possible for him to quickly pick up speed and he sprang forward seeing red and Izaya only.
The speed, that monstrous invincible body. If Shizuo had managed to catch Izaya, he woud have gone skywest. It would have been similar to dying in a car accident. Being hit by a truck, to be certain. Fortunately for Izaya, he managed to dodge and slash Shizuo’s torso, admiring the red line dissipating through his clothes.
“Oh, how nostalgic,” he said in a sing-song voice jumping onto the railings. “It’s been a while since I did it, hasn’t it, Shizu-chan?”
“Tch!” Shizuo spat on the floor in vain hope to get rid of that foul taste in his mouth that had risen with the recollection of their first encounter.
“The worst thing that happened to me in my whole life!” Shizuo roared, anger burning deep and hard.
Izaya smirked, as always looking down on him from the height of his own position.
“That’s a cruel thing to say,” he answered tauntingly. “And here I thought that we have been having fun~”
Something snapped in Shizuo. The anger, the never ending fury, filled each and every part of his body. He was burning up, longing for his fury to find a way out. With a deafening roar he charged on his enemy, the person who made a game of bringing chaos to his life.
“I-ZA-YA!” That damned flea. That pest. That bastard. The person he hated most.
His rage gave him speed. With a quick motion he captured Izaya’s arm and clenched it so tightly he could swear he heard his bones creaking. The wide-eyed horror was on that face when Izaya swayed, the old railings going crumbling down, and Shizuo, under his own momentum, gave him a tug, pulling Izaya back onto the roof. Izaya fell on the ground breathing hard and heavy, and Shizuo looked at his own hand in disbelief. Now when he had lost his hold, he was loosing his footing as well, as the railing had gone down in fragments of concrete and metal.
It happened both fast and agonizingly slow. He made a try to grip the remaining railings, but those were too far, and he was already going down. The pallid moon on an afternoon sky invaded his vision and Shizuo wondered if that peaceful scenery was the last thing he would see. If so, he could die happy.
He hit the ground with a sickening thud. That monstrous body made it possible for him to stay conscious while the blood from the gash in his head he cracked open with a piece of concrete was running on the floor. Against the darkening sky – was it already growing dusky or maybe he was fainting – he saw a dark figure standing on the roof of the building. Looming over him, laughing at him, with that ever present smug sneer. Shizuo closed his eyes.
When he came round, Shizuo slowly opened his eyes. Was he lying? Was he standing? Everything was too still, too silent. His ears were ringing with deadly quietness and he looked around. The wind never stirred the leaves on the few trees. The birds never chirped. Were there any birds? Shizuo couldn’t see them. He could see nothing but a tall figure approaching him at a cantering pace.
“I-Izaya?..” he croaked and immediately saw that he was wrong.
The man was tall and slender with fair skin, delicate features and hair of that warm auburn brown. He held out a hand for Shizuo – to stand up? To come closer? Where was he? What was happening?
“Where am I?” Shizuo asked, finding himself near the man, so close to him that it seemed if he thrust a hand, he would touch the soft fabrics of an expensive looking brown suit. “Who are you?”
“Heiwajima Shizuo,” he said in a clear ringing voice. “You lived a life full of violence and regret.” Those words sounded nothing like Japanese, but they strangely found their way. Though Shizuo could understand their meaning, he was failing to figure what was going on.
“And now, between life and death, the line you are standing on is narrow and dark. You have a chance to make a turn to the light, to life, but this chance will be given in exchange…”
“What do you want from me!?” Shizuo snapped as a primal fear began to wash him over like a cold wave of northern sea. He was seized with horror he thought he wasn’t even been able to feel. Everything seemed fake, transparent, lifeless. He couldn’t feel his limbs, his body. How was it even possible for him to stand? He couldn’t really see the ground for it was barely there – just a hint of translucent grey and brown. He couldn’t feel the wind blowing. A slightly trembling hand pressed into the chest and he couldn’t feel his heart beating. Was he even breathing? It was neither warm, nor cold. An entire stillness. But there was nothing peaceful about it. Waves of impalpable fear seized him over and over again. Fear of darkness and death, dangers of uncertainty, inability to know what was coming next. Dry lips slowly parted but neither sigh nor exhale came out. A complete stillness.
The man silently studied Shizuo’s face distorted with terror.
“You have nothing to be afraid of,” he said at last. “You have the second greatest gift after the gift of being born – the chance to come back.”
Shizuo felt a heavy lump building in his throat and swallowed hard, getting nauseous from the sour taste in his mouth. Was it true? Was he really dead?
“As I have said,” the man continued looking at Shizuo dispassionately. “The chance will be given in exchange for your own gift to another human.”
“I don’t get it.” Shizuo finally managed to say. It was too surreal, too dream-like. Was it what really happened after you died? “What are you driving at? What other gift?”
“Of a second chance. You must help a young boy to get a better life. Like yours his life has been full of hatred, anger and sorrow. You must change it.”
The man brushed the question away with his narrow hand.
“You will figure it out. That is one part of your task.”
“And who are you?” His own words were dying in the coming ringing silence as a fainting-fit was creeping its way.
“I am your guide,” came the reply and sunk in the darkness and stillness.