Chaos had released its hold on Tokyo with an uncharacteristic lack of flair. The city had become reduced to but a mere metropolitan of materialism and crime. Its noise was now nothing more than the ceaseless pandemonium of traffic and construction. Compared to how the city had been, you could say it was peaceful; quiet even.
Most hadn’t realized the change. Tokyo had lain in this state for almost two months now, but it was hard to hear the deafening blanket of silence that had fallen over the city. So, they continued to go about their lives. For some that meant getting their homework in on time, for others it meant paying money back on time or else facing dire consequences. Many enjoyed the luxury of perfectly ordinary, horribly mundane lives. Sato the postman, for instance, simply went about his business delivering mail as one of the many postmen in Ikebukuro.
Sato whistled a pop song as he approached one of the nondescript apartment buildings on his route. He couldn’t remember of the song’s lyrics, only the melody. Honestly, Sato was sure he did not even know the name of the song, and wondered whether it was something to which his daughter had been listening in his presence. All this passed through Sato’s head as he filled one mailbox after another with the apartment number’s respective mail.
Magazines, bills, junk… Very rarely, Sato noticed, did mail include personal letters nowadays. He couldn’t complain; e-mail had made his line of work just a little easier than it had been before. As he thought this, though, Sato pulled out the bundle for the next apartment - number 8 - which he noticed included a postcard. It would be important to note that this wasn’t the first postcard that Sato had delivered to number 8 in the last six weeks. The phenomenon was most peculiar for number 8, who rarely received any mail at all. Sato wasn’t a typically nosey postman, being a respectable city employee for almost fifteen years. He did, however, wonder what sort of a business the resident of number 8 had receiving a postcard from… from where?
Against his better judgment, Sato peeled back a few envelopes and took a peak. Featuring an impossibly tall, white obelisk, the postcard shouted “Greetings! From Washington D.C.” in bold and tacky wordart. Isn’t that the capital of America? Sato wondered. Besides that, Sato could not help but notice that the piece of architecture had been drawn upon with what appeared to be black pen. To Sato’s embarrassment, the added components offered a more phallic representation of the monument than was already notable.
Blushing, Sato opened number 8’s letter box and quickly dropped in the thin stack of mail. Not before Sato had finished, the door to number 8 opened from inside to a tall and disgruntled young man. Sato instinctively took a step back, fearing he had awoken a beast. He always tried to be quiet with squeaky old boxes. The sun was still harsh this early in the morning, stabbing through any gap between buildings in blinding density. Its rays caused the young man to wince as he stepped onto the terrace, whose mop of blond hair fell well in front of his eyes. Based on the young man’s attire of sweats and a dirty t-shirt, he had no doubt just woken up, but he seemed to disregard the postman as he fumbled for his mail.
“Good morning, Heiwajima-san,” Sato offered since at this point it would be impolite to ignore each other.
“‘Mornin’” came the absent-minded response. An already lit cigarette dangled carelessly from the man’s lips. The young man leaned against his door while he flipped through his mail despite the cold air outside - it was almost February and Sato himself would have preferred to be inside at that moment. Maybe he doesn’t like to smoke in his apartment?
Though Sato wanted limited interaction with Shizuo Heiwajima, his habit for pleasantries got the best of him, “I see you got another postcard this week!”
Heiwajima’s eyes snapped towards Sato, and Sato swore he saw his life flash before his eyes in that moment. Perhaps it was a touchier subject than it seemed.
“Ah… excuse me,” Sato bowed slightly and took a step towards number 9, “it’s none of my business.”
Mihashi, the personable woman that lived in number 9, greeted Sato to receive the mail herself. She was wrapped tightly in a bathrobe and clutching a warm mug of coffee.
“Sato-san!” She exclaimed, “It’s so cold this time of year! How do you survive?”
Sato smiled, “With nothing but a warm coat and an optimistic personality. Here’s your mail, Mihashi-san.”
“Anything good?” Mihashi asked.
“You know it’s not right for us to look through the mail, Mihashi-san.”
Mihashi scoffed, “Well, you could at least keep all these bills from me, couldn’t you?”
Sato chuckled, “If only -”
Both Sato and Mihashi looked bewilderedly towards the source of the sound. In front of number 8, Shizuo Heiwajima’s fist was imbedded in his letterbox. Sato gaped. Heiwajima’s shoulders rose and fell with heavy breathing. and his face, though half hidden behind that hair, seemed twisted in an ugly expression of rage.
“Shizuo-kun!” Mihashi scolded. A crack in the wall had appeared upon the wall behind the letter box.
Heiwajima pulled his fist out of the letter box and straightened himself out. In Heiwajima’s left hand, he clutched his stack of mail tight enough to reduce all the paper to wrinkled messes. He glanced in their direction rather bashfully, which perhaps took Sato more aback than did the act of destruction.
“Sorry,” Heiwajima mumbled just loud enough for them to hear, “I’ll fix that later.”
He took one more long drag of his cigarette before retreating back into his apartment, closing the door behind him so strongly that the whole complex shook. Sato didn’t much more time there before continuing his route.
It’s true that the incarnate chaos that usually lead Shizuo Heiwajima to such outbursts was no longer anywhere in Tokyo. Or even in Japan for that matter. For almost two months, the Ikebukuro streets had been free from witnessing the wild chases to which the residents had grown accustomed. Nobody really missed it, though. Rather, they revelled in the drama’s absence.
So did Shizuo Heiwajima, in fact, who enjoyed his uncontrollable rage no more than the average Ikebukuro citizen. Unfortunately, chaos wasn’t gone completely. Out of sight and out of mind not so much. As long as Izaya Orihara existed somewhere in the world, Hell would surely always return to bite Shizuo on the ass.
The first post card had arrived from San Francisco. It arrived unceremoniously about two months ago on the morning of November 11th, 2013. On the front had been a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge, and on the back had been a message:
Thinking of you as I marvel at this landmark of man-made ingenuity and collaboration, seeing as how you’ve effectively demolished every bridge connecting you to other human beings, isolating yourself completely. Also, I know the last time you saw me you were enthusiastically beating me to an inch of my life, but you’ll probably never ever ever see me again. So let’s call it water under the bridge. Did you know this bridge is famous for suicide? I love America.
I’ll try to keep you updated on my exploits. I know how you worry.
Shinra, to whom Shizuo had shown the postcard, found the wordplay quite amusing.
“I didn’t know that Izaya-kun played with words so much!” He had said.
A few months ago, Shizuo had took his strife with Izaya farther than it had ever gone before. If it had not been for the intervention of a dear friend, Shizuo just might have killed Izaya once and for all. However, the case was that Shizuo had not. Izaya Orihara remained alive, but the state of his life was very much a mystery to those left in Tokyo, since he had apparently upped and left the country without a word to anybody. Not to his clients, not to his secretary, not to his family, not to anybody. Now, the only method of having any idea of where Izaya might be is through the passive aggressive post card he would send Shizuo in the mail.
San Francisco had only been the beginning. Shizuo continued to receive postage from places such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, St. Louis, New Orleans, Orlando, and now the latest location - Washington D.C.. Each one had come with an arcane jab at Shizuo’s self-esteem and an occasional innuendo. The latest had used the United States’ Washington Monument as an example of the epitome of male appendages, one to which - as Izaya had said - Shizuo’s would never compare. When Shizuo had complained to Celty, she expressed sympathy for her longtime friend but also a reluctant admiration for Izaya’s finesse at psychological warfare. Though the effects weren’t as brutal as Izaya is known to be, his actions were certainly taking a revenge on Shizuo.
If Shizuo had ever felt the flicker of hope that Izaya was finally gone from his life after several weeks not hearing from the bastard, the arrival from America had efficiently snuffed it out. The postcards kept Shizuo’s blood boiling and temper at an all time high. The day on which the card arrived from Washington D.C. saw Shizuo in a most disagreeable mood.
He went to work that day as was expected of him. Tom greeted him with caution, sensing the tension radiating from Shizuo.
“Looking a little rough there, Shizuo, and we haven’t even started collecting! You alright?”
“Yeah, fine. It’s nothing,” Shizuo dismissed. He stuffed his hands in his pocket, one of which contained the crumpled form of the postcard from that morning. Grimacing, Shizuo clenched his fist around it and followed Tom to where they’d find their first debtor of the the day.
Part of Shizuo took comfort that the postcard seemed to be evidence that the likelihood of Izaya appearing before him there in Ikebukuro were slim to none. Unless, Shizuo wondered, if Izaya had ways of sending mail from a place where he was not. What am I thinking, of course he does! But was he? Shizuo continued to scrutinze the city with the same amount of suspicion as usual.
“You still owe Satoshi-san 500,000¥, Namikawa-san,” Tom was saying to a cowering man. The way the man’s fearful little beady eyes were sizing up Shizuo was extremely irritating. Shizuo shot the man a nasty glare from above his sunglasses, causing the man called Namikawa to shudder.
“I-I-I-I-I-I…” Namikawa stuttered.
“Oh? Don’t have it?” Tom tisked, “Well, that’s no good.”
“No wait!” Namikawa pleaded, “I was supposed to get the money from a guy, but he left! He’s not in the city anymore! I can’t find him!”
Shizuo felt his face twitch, as if the predicament resonated with him.
“Well,” Tom said, “that’s not exactly going to go over well with the boss… We might have to take whatever you have on you.” Namikawa wailed.
“Who was supposed to give you the money?!” Shizuo demanded. Beside him, Tom started. Technically, Shizuo wasn’t really supposed to do much in these situations unless the guys got rough or physical. He wondered, though, about Namikawa. He wondered about men fleeing the city. Unfortunately, Namikawa just became less and less able to form coherent thoughts. His blabbering just added to Shizuo’s already waning patience.
Snapping, Shizuo pulled out his fists and punched Namikawa right in the jaw. The man hit the ground a few meters away, losing an unflattering amount of teeth along the way.
“Shizuo!” Tom warned, but it didn’t reach Shizuo’s ears. Unwilling to stop, Shizuo ripped up the nearest heavy object - a steel door. Namikawa was already on his feet and scurrying away when Shizuo chucked the door in the man’s direction. By the time Shizuo had his next projectile in hand, Namikawa was long gone.
Blinded by a searing mix of rage, paranoia, and grief, Shizuo hoisted a steel beam above his head and turned around and round, calling out the name of one who could not have been there.
“IIIIIZAAAAYAAAA! COME OUT HERE YOU BASTARD I KNOW YOU’RE WATCHING!! IZAAAAA-”
Shizuo turned toward Tom and his vision began to clear. At most, Tom looked disgruntled and a little confused.
When Tom saw that Shizuo’s grip on the beam had slacken, as did his impression, he said, “‘Izaya?’ What are you going on about? We’re the only one’s here.”
Regaining his composure, Shizuo looked around. Tom was right, they were the only ones there. Though, a few spectators from the busier streets had made their way to peek around the corner, only to haul ass as soon they saw who was causing a ruckus. None resembled the tumor plaguing Shizuo’s imagination. Wherever Izaya was, he wasn’t there. Shizuo cursed as he realized that freaking out like this over a postcard was probably just what the bastard would have intended.
He haphazardly tossed the beam aside. “Careful!” Tom chastised, then he scratched the back of his head. Looking towards the direction in which Namikawa escaped, he mourned. “We didn’t even collect the money.”
“Sorry,” Shizuo apologized.
“It’s fine.” Tom said, shrugging. Next, he spotted something, “Oh, did you drop this?”
Tom reached for what was previously crumpled in Shizuo’s pocket, now lying on the floor.
“Oh, that’s…” Shizuo’s heart skipped a beat.
Already flattening out the postcard, Tom observed the contents on the back. He looked to Shizuo wide-eyed. “I didn’t know you were getting mail from Izaya Orihara!”
Shizuo glowered, “Yeah, well… It’s not exactly…”
Tom turned the card over and gasped. He held it up for Shizuo to see, pointing at the front’s picture. “Shizuo… that’s a penis.”
Snatching it back, Shizuo shoved the card back in his pocket. Tom let out a long, sympathetic whistle.
“Wow,” Tom said, “I just thought he was dead, was all. Most people did.”
“Hmm?” Shizuo raised an eyebrow. Tom frowned.
“Well, you and Vorona got him pretty good, didn’t you? And then poof! He was gone. You sure you didn’t kill him?”
Honestly, the night to which Tom was referring was a blur of fury to Shizuo. He did remember Izaya, wanting so much to end it there, and Vorona stopping him. That’s about it though, Izaya’s condition a mystery to him. All he registered when thinking about it all was a physical reaction of jittering and tension coursing through his veins.
“Yes,” Shizuo bit out, “I’m sure.” He stormed away, despite unknowing of where Tom had to take them next.
Hours later, Shizuo found himself walking through the park in the bitter cold. The sun had already set, and not many people remained outdoors. This time of year, those on the streets were most likely shopping. Thankfully, they avoided idle strolls through the park, so Shizuo could enjoy his smoking habit with a little more peace. He wasn’t bothered, though, when he heard the familiar whinny of an engine closeby.
Celty drove up and parked before him, adorned in her usual black leather catsuit. Shizuo might have been envious of her resistance to the cold were he a little more vulnerable to it himself; he was never one to feel the effects from the outside elements.
“Hey, Celty,” he greeted as she walked over, waving. She didn’t wait too much time before she whipped out her PDA and began typing.
[Hey! I heard about what happened while you were at work earlier.]
He should have known.
“Oh, yeah, that,” Shizuo leaned back on a rail and sighed out a billow of smoke from his cigarette.
Celty continued without much ado, [That hasn’t happened so often lately, so I wondered if you had gotten another postcard from Izaya.]
Instead of answering her directly, Shizuo just pulled the postcard out of his pocket and handed it to her. After all, the high chances that he’d probably see Celty today were the main reason he had brought it along in the first place. It was a shame that the card also seemed to serve as a weight on his nerves.
Shizuo watched Celty read the back. When she turned to observe the front, she held up a hand to cover an invisible mouth in wasted attempts to suppress a tragically inaudible laugh. Unfortunately, she could do little to hide the humorous shake in her shoulders. Shizuo groaned a little, and Celty returned to her PDA.
[I’m sorry,] she typed, [this isn’t funny. Actually, it’s really disturbing. I don’t like the idea of Izaya loose in a city that contains most of the world’s most powerful people any more than I enjoy him here.]
He hadn’t thought about that yet. Shizuo’s eye widened, “You don’t think…?!”
[Then again, maybe it’s nothing. As far as we know, nothing news-breaking had happened in the previous cities he’d been in.]
No, but Shizuo was sure. “He’s definitely planning something, right? I knew it, that bastard!”
Celty waved her hand dismissively, [I wouldn’t dwell on it. After all, we all know how he likes to narrow his harassment down to you. He’s not in Japan, so you should be thankful.]
“But maybe that’s just it. He gave up on Japan after what happened, and now he’s destroying lives somewhere that he thinks he’s safe! If he is planning to, I don’t know, bring down America, shouldn’t someone stop him?”
Seeming to consider this, Celty typed, [Maybe, but that’s not really our place. They have people for that. The CIA, FBI, NBC, CBS... a bunch of other letters.]
Shizuo remained unconvinced, “You say that like Japan’s officials could ever defend themselves against him.”
Celty shrugged, [In any case, don’t you think it would be odd that he would send you postcards to let you know exactly where he was? Wouldn’t that be counterproductive for him?]
“I never understood how his crazy mind works anyways,” Shizuo grumbled.
[Anyways, what could we do? Go to America?] Celty anxiously typed the next bit, [I wouldn’t even be able to get a passport!!]
Her attitude always refreshed Shizuo in these times. He smiled fondly, “No, I guess that would be a bit ridiculous.” He put out his cigarette in a nearby public tray. Though Celty seemed comforted by his agreement, Shizuo still felt a dreadful nagging in his gut.
[Well,] Celty typed, [I better get going.]
“Yeah,” Shizuo said, “Me too.”
Before they parted, Celty put a soothing hand on Shizuo’s shoulder.
[Don’t do anything rash, okay?]
Shizuo smirked, “Who do you think you’re talking to? Of course not!”
Celty visibly relaxed after that. She bid Shizuo farewell as she mounted her bike again, soon taking off and disappearing into the city’s deepest shadows. Shizuo made his way home lazily, mulling over his discussion with Celty and - most regrettably - over Izaya Orihara.
When he returned to his apartment, Shizuo pulled out the collection of American postcards he had gathered over the last few months while he ate his dinner of convenient store bought sushi. Embarrassed that he still had them, Shizuo believed he kept them for the same reasons he had expressed to Celty; he was suspicious. The idea that Izaya Orihara could possibly, currently be bringing down the so-called “free world” was one that had been bothering Shizuo since San Francisco. Now that Izaya was more than likely in the capital hub of the Western world, Shizuo was even more leery of the postcards’ meanings. He arranged the cards in order to examine them. While there was no guarantee how genuine these postcards were, Shizuo desperately searched for a pattern, a clue, anything.
He imagined that if he had been some genius detective, he could have drawn some sort of conclusion from the cards. As it was, Shizuo admitted he was not the kind of intelligent person for that job. All he saw were obnoxious reminders of a neverending feud with the man that would probably be the death of him. Glaring at the postcards, Shizuo did notice one thing to which he had never before paid attention. Each of the postcards had a return address, most from places that seemed to be hotels.
Frowning, Shizuo thought that Izaya was really getting sloppy if he leaving such details for Shizuo. He’s practically leading me right to him. Does he want me to find him? Shizuo quickly shook his head at that idea. Don’t be stupid. He picked up the card from Washington D.C. and looked at the return address.
Washington Marriott Metro Center
775 12th St. NW
Washington, DC 20005
United States of America
Strangely enough, it was even written in Izaya’s own handwriting. It dawned on Shizuo that if he wanted to track down Izaya and beat the crap out of him for this bullshit, he probably could. Or could he? Who knew if Izaya was even in D.C. by the time his postcard reached Tokyo.
Out of curiousity, Shizuo brought out his computer and looked up how much a flight from Tokyo to Washington D.C. would be. As soon as Shizuo saw the price, he almost choked on his sushi. He couldn’t have afforded that trip if he sold his soul.
Unless… Shizuo had one idea, but he quickly pushed the thought away. Besides, what was he going to do? Fly across the globe just to pound Izaya into the ground? Shizuo did feel a warm sensation swell in his heart at the idea, but he’d never even been outside the country. He’d never even been on a plane before, and surely his funds as a bodyguard were not enough to cover such an endeavor.
However, he did have another source of income. Shizuo found his way wandering into his bedroom and opening up his underwear drawer. Underneath all his boxers, Shizuo kept a safety box. Inside contained the passport he had gotten ages ago as a precaution of living in such an unforgiving environment, his birth certificate, a few other precious valuables, and an envelope stalked with an unused credit card and cash. He realized that he should probably keep these sort of things in a more impenetrable case and in a less conspicuous place than his underwear drawer, but he didn’t exactly have a vault inside his tiny apartment, or a good enough relationship with any bank.
The money had come from his brother Kasuka. As much as Shizuo had tried to refuse the act of charity, Kasuka had insisted that Shizuo kept it in case of emergencies. Kasuka was well aware that his older brother was often the target of people who could easily be described as evil incarnate. Even when Shizuo was worst off, he had no intention of using his brother’s money. Nothing had yet happened in Shizuo’s life that he’d constitute as an emergency worthy of using a favor from Kasuka. But now?
Shizuo pulled out the box, brought it to his bed, and opened it with the key that he kept in his wallet. He stared at the envelope, and the envelope stared right back. Shizuo swore that it was judging him a little bit.
Jumping back as if the money had bitten him on the hand, Shizuo cursed himself. “What am I doing?!”
However, wasn’t this an emergency? If Izaya Orihara was planning something on a global scale, and the only one who knew where he was and what he was doing was Shizuo… shouldn’t he do something?
I should, Shizuo told himself, but he remained wary.
Challenging himself, Shizuo walked back into the kitchen where he saw the postcards lying out on his table. All of a sudden, Shizuo could imagine Izaya Orihara there, in his kitchen, taunting him and calling him a stupid coward for doing nothing but getting angry.
“Stupid monster, like you could do anything to stop me anyways. An idiot like you? All you ever do is explode and spread your rage everywhere. And that’s what you’ll keep doing, won’t you? Just sit there in ‘bukuro, I’m perfectly safe from you here.”
The imaginary words struck a chord within Shizuo that ricocheted throughout his entire body until it caused every vein to seer with an unquenchable fury.
“LIKE HELL YOU ARE.”
A couple hours later, Shizuo found himself getting out of a cab at Narita with nothing but what he could squeeze into a backpack and carry on his body.
Never having been inside the airport before, Shizuo struggled to find the right desk which only added to his fuming demeanor. Finally, he found the place for international flights. Luckily it was almost 3AM and no one was in line. He approached the girl sitting there and slammed down the unused credit card from Kasuka.
“Get me to Washington D.C. so I can finally put an end to that miserable excuse for a human being.”
Behind the counter, the young woman just raised an eyebrow. After a moment, she scrupulously took the card.
“You know, no matter what you’re going to America for, I’m going to have to see your passport.”
The whole ordeal of going through security and customs was completely foreign to Shizuo. If anything, he found the whole routine tedious. Rather than getting discouraged, Shizuo became increasingly annoyed until he just blamed Izaya for every hassle that came with travelling. He had just enough time to think clearly enough to send Tom a text saying that he would not be at work that morning. But, before he knew it, Shizuo was being herded like a sheep into a 727 and into a seat that could barely fit his whole body. On either side of him were families and businessmen. Somewhere in the plane, a baby wouldn’t stop crying.
It wasn’t until the plane was taking off and in the air that Shizuo realized that perhaps he had made an awful, terrible mistake.