“At least you brought deodorant.”
Somewhere along the way from the Capitol to the Marriott, Izaya had stolen his backpack. Right after I paid the cabbie, Shizuo thought, but he hadn’t noticed right away when it was missing from his back. He had been too busy fuming after he was forced to compensate for Izaya’s own cab in the first place.
“Give that back!” Shizuo snatched at it. Izaya was on the other side of the room in a flash.
“Oh no, security!” Izaya feigned a distressed cry. “You’ve let a monster into the hotel!! Come on, Shizu-chan, don’t make me regret talking you up back there!”
On the bright side, he hadn’t been banned from the hotel. Or at least, he wasn’t after Izaya talked something over with the manager. Shizuo found it extremely annoying and disheartening whenever Izaya kept going off with strangers in a language that Shizuo didn’t fully understand. It gave the impression that he was being babysitted by the man he hated. In all honestly, Shizuo wasn’t even quite sure what he was doing anymore. Why was Izaya still breathing and why was he still in America?
But even if Shizuo decided to give up and just return to Japan, he really, really wanted to shower.
He was now in Izaya’s hotel room, which was only a modest single bedroom. It was nice and clean and had that blanche hotel room smell, but nothing too fancy. Shizuo really only had the times Tom and he visited crooks in hotels to compare with, but the amenities in this room seemed standard: white bedding, T.V., desk, couch, ugly carpet, bathroom, and kitchenette. The windows were nice and big though, and Shizuo could see the sun already setting behind the city’s buildings. He hated that about winter; the day ends too soon after it began.
“So Shizu-chan,” Izaya called his attention away from the skyline, “Exactly how much money did you start with?”
Shizuo found Izaya rummaging deeper into his bag and drawing out the pouch where he was keeping all his money.
“Hey! I told you to give that back!!”
“Look at all this cash,” Izaya counted through it, “You’re going to be mistaken for a drug dealer. Did Kasuka give it to you like this?”
“None of your business!” He was basically chasing Izaya around the room now.
“Hmm… I don’t know if you really have enough cash to get back to Japan. How much is on this credit card?”
Shizuo stopped. If he didn’t actually have enough to get home, he was screwed. “Uh, I don’t know.
“Figures.” Izaya dived for his laptop on the hotel’s desk and opened it. The credit card dangled from his lips as he typed and clicked away furiously.
“What are you doing?” Shizuo demanded. Izaya just kept at his typing. After a moment, Izaya stopped and offered the card back to Shizuo, who took it and wiped it on his shirt.
“There’s like, $500 on there. A little less, actually,” Izaya explained.
“How the hell did you figure that out? The hell did you do?!” Shizuo tried to get a better look at whatever was on Izaya’s screen.
Izaya just closed the laptop. “Don’t snoop, Shizu-chan,” he scolded, as if he wasn’t just hacking a credit account or rummaging through another’s bag without their permission.
“Five hundred, that’s…” Shizuo tried to do math in his head, but failed.
“Chump money in another country,” Izaya said. “But there’s a little more in cash. Probably just enough to get someone back to good ol’ Japan… if that is what you decide to do.”
Shizuo grimaced, “Why wouldn’t I go back to Japan?”
Stretching, Izaya feigned concern, “Well you’ve sure spent a lot of your brothers money, Shizu-chan. It’s his credit account, too, isn’t it? How awkward would it be to explain to him that you flushed it all down the drain for naught? Tsk tsk, you should think about your brother’s feelings more.”
“You little -” Shizuo hoisted Izaya up with one hand while the veins in his forehead pulsed rapidly, “I came to teach you a lesson and I would’ve had enough if you hadn’t kept disappearing into all these places where you gotta pay to get in.”
Izaya pushed himself away and draped the back of his hand across his forehead. “Oh no, you’re right. It’s all my fault. Because of me, poor Shizu-chan has experienced world-renowned exhibitions and seen infamous sights! You poor thing, flying across the world in a plane that wouldn’t crash in the pacific! You must have hated everything you saw, hated walking around one of the most famous people in the world’s house. Imagine if you even had actually seen someone of importance!!” He flopped down on the bed dramatically, “Oh god, what a fucking nightmare!”
Shizuo watched the performance with a mix of irritation and reluctant amusement.
“But,” Izaya’s tone shifted, “If you sign my contract, I’ll insure that I refill what you used of your brother’s and include a return ticket to Japan.”
“Tch, you ever gonna take ‘no’ for an answer?”
“I might,” Izaya admitted as he rose off the bed again. He stalked over to Shizuo, “if I’m convinced you really mean it.”
“Well I’m not convinced of anything you say,” Shizuo spat back.
“That’s okay,” Izaya said, and the contract was in his hand again. “You don’t have to trust me, you just have kill me.”
Izaya was uncomfortably close to Shizuo now, staring up at him, both apprehensive and wicked. Once again, Shizuo swore he could see a new and different glint in the auburn eyes. For almost a minute, they stayed like that. If Shizuo leaned forward just ever so slightly, their chests would surely bump together. Neither would move. Shizuo searched Izaya’s face for some kind of hint, but all he saw was a slightly cracked mask.
Then Izaya made a movement too fast for Shizuo to react. He pushed Shizuo and sent him stumbling back several feet away, straight through the open bathroom door.
“I can’t keep smelling you like that” Izaya scrunched his nose, “Go take your shower.”
From this view, Izaya was almost just a silhouette to Shizuo. He was backed by the luminous windows that filtered in the last remaining sunlight that was left of the day. An eerily red aura encompassed Izaya, and when Shizuo couldn’t bare to look at it anymore, he slammed that bathroom door and turned on the showerhead. As he stripped and stepped under the hot water, he let the last two days wash over him.
Twice he had failed to actually kill Izaya, or even inflict any real injury. He cursed himself for not allowing the taxi from hitting Izaya, but the moment had been just as impulsive as any time he found him running in Izaya’s wake. Though he considered throwing in the towel for this adventure several times on their way to the hotel, he couldn’t shake the feeling that Izaya was hiding something. Well, Izaya was always hiding something, but there was no doubt that he was acting particularly shady in Shizuo’s presence this time around. Shizuo had to admit that Izaya had barely been provoking him apart from his typically nasty nature. But, the more benevolent Izaya acted, the more Shizuo’s suspicion grew.
The two of them were no strangers, and Shizuo knew good and well that Izaya was a chickenshit when it came to death. Now, he was directly asking to be killed and being so foolish as to run into oncoming traffic - not that repeatedly enticing Shizuo’s wrath was a less dangerous activity. Izaya never told the truth, though, so Shizuo’s head was becoming a conflicting jumble of options. Shizuo told himself that he still fully intended to make good on his vow to kill Izaya before they went any further, but after already spending almost half a day with the man and getting nowhere with that, a fearful part of him wondered if the threat had become empty. While Shizuo wasn’t buying too much into Izaya’s “contract,” he was still curious of two things: what was Izaya up to, and what else was out there in the world for him to see?
Having become a shut-in in Japan, Shizuo wouldn’t mind the opportunity to see the world a little bit more. Even if it was with Izaya, who would have never been his top choice for travelling company, Shizuo wouldn’t have to pay a cent. And if there was some off chance that any of what Izaya said rang true, Shizuo would never have to deal with him again afterwards.
He sighed and rubbed some shampoo away from his eye. At times like this, Shizuo really wished he had Celty around to go to for guidance. When he tried to imagine what she would say, he could only guess that she’d reprimand him for going on this crazy trek in the first place. Hell, that’s pretty much what she told him the day before he left. If only Shizuo had listened.
After a few more minutes of soaking in the hot water, he turned off the shower. He’d been there so long that steam was effectively fogging up every surface. When he reached for a towel, he swayed a little; he really needed some damn sleep. He was cautious getting out, half expecting Izaya to have snuck in and wait with his camera at the ready.
As it was, Shizuo peeked out of the bathroom to find the hotel room empty. All was dark but a single dimly lit lamp on the nightstand closest to Shizuo. He could see his backpack sitting on the bed. Checking his surroundings and still expecting Izaya to jump out of the shadows - as he often did - Shizuo went out with just a towel around his waist and grabbed his backpack. He pulled out the only other t-shirt and pair of clean boxers he bought and threw them on. Once his shirt was over his head, a note on the nightstand caught his eye. Picking it up, he saw that Izaya had left it.
Got another room. This one only has one bed, and we’re not that close.
Shizuo huffed and crumpled up the piece of paper, letting it fall to the floor. It honestly bugged him that he couldn’t complain about that. Looking at the alarm clock beside the bed told him that it wasn’t even that late. Only toddlers and the elderly were asleep at this hour, but goddamn he was tired. All he did was make sure the room was locked before crawling under the king-sized bed’s comforter, turning off the lamp, and falling fast asleep.
Shizuo groaned as whatever incessant noise going off woke him. His face was buried in the pillow, with a very impressive drool stain spreading under him.
“Shut upppppp” Shizuo moaned into the pillow. Ringalingaling! was his only answer. What could be ringing at him so early in the morning?
Blearily, he began to blink his eyes open and look around. Every inch of morning light streaming in from the window stung his eyes. His eyes fluttered and he rubbed them more awake. The hotel phone on the nightstand was not the culprit.
Shizuo literally crawled out of bed and to the floor. He followed the direction of the sound until he found his pants from yesterday lying discarded in front of the bed. My pants are ringing, was his first thought.
He drowsily searched both the pockets and found his newly bought phone.
You, Shizuo glowered at it, eyes red with sleep. He didn’t even check the number before he answered it.
“SHIZUO-KUN! YOU’RE ALIVE!” Shizuo had to hold the phone several inches from his ear when the person on the other end shouted. “Thank goodness we finally reached you!!”
After a moment to process, Shizuo recognized the voice yelling at him.
The doctor was now speaking away from his own phone, “Celty! Celty!! I have him, he’s here!! Shizuo-kun, are you still there?”
“Uh, yeah.” Shizuo had almost forgotten that he had called Shinra and Celty the other day. On the other hand, he was glad to find that his phone was working.
“Are you in jail?!” Shinra sounded panicked, “Is it horrible?! Are the experimenting on you Shizuo-kun?! Those heartless Americans!”
“I’m not in jail!” Shizuo barked through the receiver.
“...Oh!” He heard a sigh of relief. “Shizuo-kun, what were you thinking! Celty told me you were thinking about running off to America to hunt Izaya-kun down. Is that really what you did?”
“M...maybe…” He admitted.
“You did!” Shinra exclaimed, “What, Celty? Oh, she’s scolding you. She says - I can’t say that, Celty! Okay, fine, yes. She’s asking if you’re on your way back. You’re coming back, right?”
“Uh…” Shizuo hesitated, even to his own surprise. “About that…”
“Shizuo-kun, you should give up on finding Izaya-kun. Nothing good can come from finding him.”
“Actually, I already found him.”
Shinra gasped. “YOU KILLED IZAYA-KUN?!”
A sigh of relief. “Relax, Celty, he said he didn’t kill Izaya-kun.” Shizuo rolled his eyes at the two of them. “Wait… he’s not with you, is he?”
Shizuo finally rose up off the ground and did a three-sixty to check of any signs of Izaya. No Izaya could be seen but something on the desk did catch his attention.
“No… not right now,” Shizuo answered distractedly.
“I don’t know what that means. And by the way… I did tell Tom-kun why you were absent, but really Shizuo-kun, this was foolish even for you. I mean…”
Shizuo tuned out Shinra as he picked up a new note on the desk. Again, Izaya left it for him. A shiver ran down his spine at the knowledge that Izaya had creeped into the room while he was sleeping. He said a silent prayer for his spared life as he picked up the message and read it while Shinra ranted in his ear.
You looked so angelic sleeping so I didn’t want to wake you. I’ve grown tired of DC and originally had plans to set off for a new destination tomorrow anyways, so I’ve decided to leave our future together up to fate. I am leaving on a Northeastern Acela Express Amtrak train at 9:15AM from Union Station. I’ve left the contract in your hands. If you decide to see the world with me, I’ve left the contract for you to sign. Don’t sleep in too late, kay?
Shizuo looked down to see the contract and a pen lying there beneath the note. His eyes returned to read the note over again but found it difficult as he also found that his hands were shaking for some reason.
“...and I just - Shizuo-kun! Are you listening?!” Shinra was still blabbing in his ear. “Celty’s typing something again hold on. She says - oh. Shizu-chan she’s really mad maybe you should stay there after all.”
Scanning the room for the alarm clock, Shizuo’s stomach lurched when he saw that it was already 8:41AM.
Through the phone, he heard Shinra help painfully. “I’m sorry I’m sorry I didn’t mean it, Celty!!”
“Shinra!” Shizuo was shouting, already moving hastily, “I’ve got to go!”
“Huh!! Wait! When are you coming back?!”
“I’m not!” Shizuo tried to put on his pants while holding the phone up to his ear with his shoulder, almost tripping, “I mean - Not yet, I - fuck I don’t know!”
“Look, I’ll call you when I get a chance! Tell Tom I’m really sorry! Bye Celty!!”
“WAIT - !”
Shizuo already hung up and pocketed the phone, throwing on his shirt almost simultaneously. He didn’t stop to brush his teeth, to look in a mirror or to even think. He just dressed himself as fast as he could, stuffed everything in his backpack - including the stupid contract - and charged out the door.
Downstairs, Shizuo burst through the front doors of the hotel and out into the street. Frantically searching for a taxi, all he saw was a traffic jam on their way to work at rush hour. Any taxi he saw was lit up as occupied, and every car was moving at a snail’s pace.
Back in the lobby, Shizuo jutted in front an elderly couple at the concierge desk.
“QUICK where the hell is Union Station?!” He demanded.
The concierge - the brunette, Deborah - went wide-eyed. For a second, Shizuo feared he was about to be attacked by security again. Also, Deborah wasn’t supposed to understand a word Shizuo said, but luckily she seemed to catch the key word.
“Union Station?” She to her left, “Go South on 12th St. and then turn left on E St!”
Shizuo’s brain latched onto “left on E St.” He was running out the door again while Deborah called after him. “Wait! But it’s really far, you shouldn’t - !”
He didn’t have any time to listen, and adrenaline took over him. Outside, he sprinted down what he hoped was the right street and just hoped he wouldn’t be late.
By the time Shizuo found the train station - which in any other circumstance would have been enjoyable to look at - it was already three minutes past nine. He only had about ten minutes to find whichever train Izaya was on, and he had no idea how to find it.
One that was… Amtrak? Northeast? Shizuo found a screen display of all the trains arriving and departing and there were several of these Amtrak trains lined up. Dammit, flea, you could have been more specific!
Finding an area with that name displayed, Shizuo quickly approached a ticket desk with a man there and with an empty line. Swallowing, Shizuo did his best to test his English.
“Need a… uh… ticket… Acela?” That he was panting heavily didn’t help that much.
The man raised an eyebrow. “We have three trains leaving on the Acela Express today, sir.”
Without any knowledge of what the hell the guy said, Shizuo just yelled the time at him “9:15! That one!”
“Oh!” The man began processing. “That’ll be -”
Shizuo just threw the credit card at him. An achingly long minute later, the man was handing back his credit card along with a ticket.
“Track 7. Better hurry,” The vendor started, “they’re doing last boarding call -” But Shizuo had taken off as soon as he heard the track number. May luck be on his side and that he actually find the right train.
He reached the train with only a minute or two to spare, and absolutely no air left in his lungs. Even then, though, the train was a long silver bullet and Shizuo wondered if he’d be able find Izaya in its many seats. A conductor looked at him disapprovingly when he climbed on board in the midst of catching his breath. Shizuo just flashed the guy his ticket and clambered in through the cabin.
Looking around, his heart dropped a little. There somewhere between twenty and thirty seats in this cabin alone, and there were probably about five other cars like this. How was he going to find Izaya like that?
He took a deep, long breath and started shouting, “IIIIIIIZAAAAAAAAAAYAAAA!”
All of the passengers in that cabin turned to gape at him, but he didn’t stop as he marched down the aisle. “IIIIIIIIIIIIIIZZZZAAAAAYA-”
Almost choked on his own voice, Shizuo froze immediately. He looked down to his immediate right. Squatted in the window seat with his knees to his chest and feet on the seat, Izaya was staring up at Shizuo with a book open against his legs and a finger twirled within his hair. For a moment, him and Shizuo shared surprised eye contact, but a grin spread over Izaya’s features. He broke into a fit of giggles without taking his eyes off Shizuo, who felt his face heat up. Looking away from Izaya, he only saw other passengers regarding him with uneasy stares. He threw himself down in the seat next to Izaya, who was still laughing.
When Izaya didn’t shut up, Shizuo grabbed his head with one hand and squeezed threateningly. But Izaya only started sounding more and more like hyena, rocking in the seat and holding his stomach as he began to lose the air in his lungs needed to laugh audibly. Shizuo grumbled bitterly to himself as Izaya tried to compose himself.
Even when Izaya finally caught his breath again, Shizuo refused to look at him. His face was still hot, and he wasn’t sure if he was embarrassed by the scene itself or Izaya’s reaction. How did I get here? Shizuo asked himself. How? This is bad, I’m trash, why did I do this.
He could sense Izaya's eyes steady on him.
“Did you sign it?”
Shizuo finally turned to find Izaya waiting anxiously, most amusement gone from his face. Snorting, Shizuo reached into his backpack and pulled out the contract that was now wrinkled without care. He presented it to Izaya without flattening it. Izaya snatched it and used the train’s window to spread the creases out. There on the bottom line was Shizuo’s signature, setting Izaya’s face alight again.
The train lurched into motion underneath them. Outside the window showed them rolling out of the station, off on their way to God knows where. Shizuo folded his arms caustically against his chest and frowned at this whole mess he’d just gotten himself into. He caught Izaya’s eye, who folded up their now official agreement and tucked it away neatly into his jacket’s inner breast pocket. “So what now?”