There was a time Shizuo thought he'd be incredibly happy with a peaceful life. And he was, for a while at least.
The first few months after Izaya left the city, things were incredibly mundane. Gangs had settled down, an uneasy calm settled over them all, and Shizuo enjoyed it, thinking to himself this was all he ever wanted. No one came after him to test his strength. No one meddled in his affairs. No one even bothered him.
It was odd to him that he sometimes missed the excitement of not knowing what was around every corner, but he convinced himself he'd get over it.
He didn't get over it.
Just a mere six months after Izaya left, things erupted again.
Gangs were at each other's necks, fighting over petty territory, the Yakuza were involving themselves more outwardly in the conflicts, and eventually someone, some kid, got shot and killed when things came to a head.
Shizuo had asked Shinra if Izaya was involved in any of it, and Shinra had shrugged, smiling serenely in that way of his.
“Izaya has been gone a long time now,” he'd said. “You're the only one who ever mentions him, and you're the reason he left. I think it's safe to say he hasn't been involved in any of this.”
It left a bad taste in Shizuo's mouth. It wasn't fair. He always thought Izaya was the barrier between them all coexisting but what if the city's natural state was to be in perpetual chaos?
After the eruption of violence ended with death, things settled again, but Shizuo was beginning to see a pattern, and sure enough, the fighting started again a few months later. No one ever outright challenged him to a fight, either knowing his reputation, or just...not paying him any attention.
Shizuo looked through the crowd for that sharp smile and those cunning, playful eyes, but he never caught sight of them, and eventually he realized he was hoping he would. It made more sense for Izaya to be involved than to not. And more than that, Izaya was a common enemy. A familiar one. He knew how to handle Izaya.
After a year, it seemed no one even remembered Izaya.
Shizuo rarely saw the Orihara twins out and about, but when he did they always greeted him with excitement, usually babbling about his brother or how they were causing trouble in school. He remembered feeling unusually light when Mairu offhandedly mentioned Izaya for the first time in a long time.
“What'd you say?” he'd asked, looking down at her smiling flea-like face.
“I said Iza-nii sent us new phones! So now we can send you much better pictures. You'd better send us some, too!” Mairu's expression gave away exactly who she expected Shizuo to send pictures of, but he barely focused on that.
“He's still alive?”
“Well, duh. I mean, we rarely hear from him, but that's a good thing. He's a dick.” She'd giggled at that, and paused when Kururi nudged her.
“Iza-nii is...caring in his way...”
Mairu made a face. “She's defending him because he gave us presents today. We can go back to hating him tomorrow.”
The exchange seemed like nothing, but Shizuo had been happy to know Izaya was okay. He wasn't a murderer after all, and neither was Vorona.
Izaya was probably just causing trouble in a new city, doing his usual thing on a new playing field. Somehow, it was a comfort.
That had been only a month ago.
Today, Shizuo is rushing to Shinra's due to some frantic messages from Celty about Shinra being stabbed and 'talking crazy', though Shinra always talks crazy and is probably fine. Shizuo is more worried about Celty, and when he arrives he finds them both in the bedroom, along with Kadota.
“Yo,” Kadota greets right about the time Celty is bouncing into Shizuo's line of vision, her PDA shoved in his face to explain what happened.
“Stabbed by a patient? Well, what the fuck do you expect, working with the types of people you do?” Shizuo scoffs. He puts a soothing hand on Celty's shoulder and resists the urge to light a cigarette.
“How cruel! I take pride in my work!” Shinra sits up and winces a bit, assuring Celty he's fine. He laughs a bit and waves his hands in the air, clearly high as hell from the painkillers.
“Taking pride in patching up the Yakuza. Man, what a thing to be proud of,” Kadota says, grinning a bit. Shizuo notices his usual gang isn't with him for a change, which is nice. Talking to Kawisawa exhausts him.
“Everyone needs a doctor,” Shinra says. “Besides, it isn't the first time I've been stabbed.”
“Not surprising at all,” Shizuo says, and Shinra pouts at him.
“Hey! It was before I even became a doctor! It was back in middle school!” He's thrashing in the pillows a little, and Shizuo notices Celty is trying to make him shut up, and he can guess why. Middle school...
Shinra was friends with Izaya, then.
“I got stabbed for Izaya! Not in as bad of a place as this time, though,” Shinra explains, pointing to the bandages on his stomach. “It was in the side. Still kind of close to the same spot!”
“I heard that rumor,” Kadota says calmly, casting a single glance at Shizuo before looking back at Shinra. “But I heard it was Izaya that stabbed you.”
“What!” Shizuo barks and Celty's shoulders droop before she shoves her PDA back in Shizuo's face, but he doesn't bother reading it. “You got stabbed by that—!”
“Oh, no, that's just what we said because Izaya was trying to build a bad reputation for himself. He didn't stab me. I jumped in front of him because he was causing trouble and...” Shinra trails off, frowning a little. “Well. He's my friend. I did it without thinking.”
“To think you'd take a knife for that flea bastard,” Shizuo grunts.
Shinra smiles pleasantly and starts to say something when his phone chimes and interrupts him. He picks it up and snorts a little, his fingers moving to type his reply to whatever message he received.
“Speak of the devil, they say,” Shinra hums, and the implications hit Shizuo like a brick wall.
“You said you hadn't heard from Izaya,” Kadota says before Shizuo can.
“I say a lot of things. I rarely hear from him. He just sent me a laughing face because I told him I was stabbed.”
Celty's hands clench in fists and she types frantically, showing Shinra her paragraphs long tirade. He only laughs and waves her away.
“No, no, he knows I'm fine. Izaya is just—well. You all know how he is. He can't be so careless in showing his concerns. I'm telling him to fuck himself in reply, so.”
Shizuo has never been able to understand Shinra's friendship with Izaya, but he can't recall actually hearing much of their interactions. Come to think of it, he doesn't think Celty has been around the both of them either, because she's often expressed to Shizuo that she doesn't believe someone like Izaya Orihara could have a friend like Shinra. But then...Izaya is friends with Kadota, too, right?
Kadota seems very uninterested in what's going on, like usual. He turns to Shizuo again.
“You must've been off today,” he states, motioning to Shizuo's short sleeve shirt.
“Huh? Oh, yeah.” It's obvious Kadota is changing the subject. “I got lunch with Kasuka and then I got Celty's message.”
“I read that he's getting married to Ruri soon,” Shinra says. “How nice. I'm jealous of him! I want to marry my soulmate! Alas, she's making me wait!”
The mention has Shizuo looking down at his bicep where his own mark has always been. He's always wondered if maybe he's met his soulmate before, in passing, and scared them away with his strength. Or worse, hurt them. Or maybe his soulmate went off somewhere and died already.
He doesn't think about it when he can help it. All the outcomes seem bleak, and Shizuo has made his peace being alone.
“Hey, at least you found yours.” Kadota's voice snaps Shizuo out of his reverie. “Some people never do.”
“You'll find yours, Kadota! Your mark is on your neck. You'll be able to tell pretty easily, don't you think?” Shinra asks dreamily. His own mark is on his chest, which has to be where Celty's is. Shizuo often wonders how Shinra just knew Celty was meant to be his when he'd never even seen her mark, but then again, Celty has mentioned experiments Shinra and his father used to perform.
“Well, at least I'm not the only one who hasn't found theirs.” Kadota doesn't seem to care much about it at all, and probably doesn't.
“It could be worse,” Shinra says. “You could be stabbed.”
“Yeah, or your soulmate could be long gone, like mine,” Shizuo offers with a shrug. Kadota nods at that, grinning a bit. Shinra, however, laughs loudly.
“What's so funny?” Shizuo growls, and Shinra shakes his head, wiping moisture from under his glasses.
“Oh, man. Nothing. Nothing. But everything! You couldn't be more spot on, Shizuo. Well, you could. But you'd never really guess on your own, I don't think. Not if it's been all this time and you still haven't.”
“Wait, what? You...know who my soulmate is?” Shizuo pauses for a moment before he's on his feet. “You know that and you haven't told me?!”
Celty gets between them instantly, but she's also facing Shinra, and even without a head, it's obvious she's demanding something of him.
“Don't give me that look!” Shinra wails to her. “You know I can't deny that look! I made a promise!”
“I'm gonna make a promise to break every bone in your body if you don't fess up!” Shizuo barks, and Celty puts her hands on her hips. Shinra visibly deflates.
“The two of you are way scarier than him anyway. What can he do? He isn't even here.”
“Him?” Shizuo asks.
“Izaya,” Shinra says.
There's a long, long pause.
“What's that flea have to do with this?!” Did Izaya scare his soulmate away? It sounds like something Izaya would have done, just to torture him.
Shinra merely points to Shizuo's arm with a sly grin.
“He's got that same mark. Why do you think he always wore long sleeves around you no matter how hot it was? Come on, surely you noticed before now.” Shinra is the only one in the room who isn't dumbfounded. “I mean, it's obvious. He threatened to disembowel me if I ever told you, but my Celty wouldn't let that happen anyway! And I can hardly be blamed when I'm on drugs.”
“Izaya is Shizuo's soulmate? Izaya?” Kadota finally asks.
“It really wasn't obvious?” Shinra asks, seeming genuinely surprised.
Shizuo breaks the arms of the chair he's sitting in.
It takes Kadota and Celty both to stop Shizuo from pounding Shinra's face in for making such shitty jokes, and then it takes a long time afterwards for Shizuo's ears to stop ringing so he can actually hear Shinra's babbling. He excuses himself afterwards, not trusting himself not to snap and break Shinra like a twig.
Apparently Shinra had known since middle school and wanted to introduce them immediately, but Izaya never expressed interest or desire in meeting anyone, so it wasn't until they all went to the same school that he was finally cajoled into a meeting.
And then Shizuo and Izaya actually met, and Izaya saw Shizuo's mark.
Shinra was threatened into secrecy, and Izaya never intended for Shizuo to know.
Shizuo growls and stomps on his cigarette as he accidentally breaks it. It's the fourth one he's crushed, and he needs to be careful because he's running low.
“But now you know! And you can finally decide if you want to do something about it!” Shinra had said with a loopy smile.
Yeah, right. As if things could ever be so simple.
Shizuo looks up at the building he's wandered in front of. Izaya's building, or his old one, at least. The lights are off in Izaya's apartment. Shizuo wonders if Izaya still pays for it, or if someone else lives there now.
“Do it, you monster.”
Those were the last words Izaya had said to him, broken and bloody, his eyes filled with hatred. And if not for Vorona, Shizuo can't say he wouldn't have killed Izaya. He wanted to. Izaya was the only person he ever truly wanted to kill in his life, and Izaya made it clear their conflict wouldn't be resolved until one of them ended up dead.
For a long time, Shizuo wondered if Izaya left the city and then died anyway, succumbing to his injuries. And Shizuo had been truly remorseful, hoping against that fate, and he had been happy to know Izaya was fine, off somewhere else.
Somehow, that shitty, shitty flea is his soulmate? It doesn't seem possible.
He looks up when he hears footsteps, and he isn't at all surprised to see Celty approaching him carefully.
“You ran off so quickly.” Her PDA says.
“I couldn't hear anymore of that,” he replies, blowing his smoke away from her. Even if she doesn't have a head, he at least has manners.
Celty takes a moment to respond.
“Are you okay?”
Her helmet cocks to the side.
“Are you going to be?”
Her hand squeezes his, and he drops his cigarette and stomps it, suddenly not in the mood to smoke anymore.
“Did you know?” he asks her after a while.
“No! I would've told you!!!!!” She waves her hands around and then shoves her PDA back in his face. “I swear I would have! That's probably why Shinra didn't even tell me!”
“Do you think it's the truth?” Shizuo asks, not knowing what else to say. He can't see her expression, but he feels her sympathy, and he knows what she's going to say before she says it.
“Shinra wouldn't lie about this.”
Shizuo sighs and looks down at his bicep. His mark is small, at least compared to others he's seen. They can be any shape or size, but only one's soulmate will have the exact same mark in the same place. Izaya must have been careful to hide it so well. It's true Shizuo has never seen him wear short sleeves in all the years they've known each other.
“It's probably some prank from Izaya. Maybe he hated me before he even met me. He just had to fuck with me even then, and he's still doing it when he's not even here.” He doesn't believe the words he's saying even as he says them, and he knows they sound ridiculous to Celty. To her credit, she only shakes her head.
“He couldn't have known your mark before seeing it. I've been alive a long time, much longer than any of you, and I never saw a mark like mine until I met Shinra.”
Shizuo has never seen their marks, but Shinra has mentioned they resemble an amalgamation of Celtic runes. Shizuo thinks his own looks like a crescent moon or a messed up, sideways otter. The moon probably sounds more poetic, though.
“It can't be him,” Shizuo says decidedly. “And if it is, the universe made a mistake.” He glances at Celty. “Right?”
She squeezes his hand again, and they both look up at Izaya's apartment. It looks taunting in its darkness.
He takes a few days off work. Tom is pretty understanding, even if he doesn't know what's going on, and Vorona is more than capable of taking care of things anyway. Shizuo spends his time holed up in his apartment, smoking too much and brooding about his situation.
Shinra sends him a nonstop chain of messages, all begging him not to repeat what he was told to Izaya or anyone that knows Izaya, because Izaya would kill him, probably in a horrible way. Shizuo ignores them and lets Shinra suffer like he deserves.
He tries to think of what he should do, what he wants to do. He can't really pinpoint what he's feeling. He's never been good at handling his emotions, and his default is anger, because anger is something he's used to feeling.
Again, he settles on anger.
Why Izaya? Why? Of all people in the world, why him?
More importantly, why should Shizuo be the only one suffering from this knowledge? That shitty flea thinks he can run off and leave and never own up to any of this?!
Shizuo will kill him first!
He spends time staring at the contact in his phone saved under “Flea”. Surely Izaya would have changed his number by now. He always had more than one phone anyway, from what Shizuo remembers. Besides, what would Shizuo even say?
When he's tired of stewing alone, he goes back to work, where Vorona welcomes him back about as enthusiastically as she's capable, and Tom gives him a thumbs-up. Shizuo resumes his daily activity of slouching and trailing after Tom, but taking out his anger on dirt bags in debt really helps him relieve some stress.
“Wow, that guy went clear across the city,” Tom says after Shizuo performs an impressive overhead toss. “Something on your mind?”
“No,” Shizuo says gruffly, putting his hands back in his pockets.
“Senpai has loud thoughts today,” Vorona says to Tom, giving a curt nod to Shizuo as if she believes she's helping him.
“Anything we can help with?” Tom asks.
“No,” Shizuo says again. No one can really help him, not with this problem at least.
He catches sight of the back of two familiar heads in the crowd, going the opposite direction.
“But maybe they can,” Shizuo murmurs to himself before he takes off after the two girls. He catches them by surprise and grabs hold of their hoods. Mairu squawks and turns around with her fists raised, but she pauses when she sees it's Shizuo.
“You almost got decked in face!” she says, grinning up at him. Of the twins, she's the one who reminds him more of Izaya. Her eyes are always alight with mischief, just like the flea's.
“Wouldn't have felt it anyway.” He shrugs and lets them go.
“We saw you throw that guy. We sent a Snapchat to Iza-nii.”
Shizuo decides the most direct way is the best way.
“Where is he?”
“Huh? Who? The guy you threw? Probably across the world! You really threw him far!” Mairu giggles and mimics a throwing motion. Kururi only stares up at Shizuo.
“No. Izaya. Where is Izaya?” Shizuo asks, watching both girls' eyes widen.
“We don't know,” Mairu says.
“Secretive...” Kururi adds.
“Are you going to finish him off? You're not, right? I mean, he's a dick-hole, but we need him alive. He's loaded and he buys really nice presents when he wants,” Mairu says. Even with her words, Shizuo can tell by her expression she cares about Izaya, even if it's only a little.
“No, I just—need to talk to him. It's...important.”
Their heads both cock to the side in unison. It's kind of adorable.
“We haven't seen him once since he left. He sends things from all over. We think he's traveling.”
“Overseas,” Kururi tacks on.
“Oh,” Shizuo says, feeling more disappointed than he'd like to admit.
“He's probably been back a few times, though. He still keeps tabs on what goes on around here,” Mairu says.
“You think he'd come back and not visit you guys?” Shizuo asks, confused. He sees Kasuka whenever he can, but then again, he doesn't pretend to understand the Orihara family.
“Iza-nii wants to be perfect. We don't see him when he's less than.” Mairu shrugs like that made sense while Kururi nods. The confusion and disappointment must show on Shizuo's face, because Kururi puts a hand on his arm in a feather-like touch that might be meant to be soothing.
“Soulmates,” she says.
“Huh?! You knew about that?!”
“We lived with him for years. You really think we never saw his arm?” Mairu asks, rolling her eyes.
“I thought at least you two would say something!” Shizuo growls.
The girls share a look.
“We tried before, but Iza-nii got really upset. Like, really upset. I thought he was seriously gonna lock us in the basement like he always threatened. He stabbed a knife through the wall and almost got the neighbors to call the cops on us. It was pretty intense,” Mairu explains. “He never gets like that, even when we really make him mad. So we decided it was best to let you guys work it out.”
“You're both stubborn,” Kururi says, and Mairu laughs.
“That's an understatement!”
“Hey,” Shizuo says, offended.
“I mean, you're soulmates and you always try to kill each other. That's the Everest of stubborn.”
“Hey,” Shizuo repeats.
“Izaya also has a mole on his butt. In case you were curious about other marks.” Mairu's smile is more of a leer at this point.
“Oh, my god. I'm leaving,” Shizuo says.
“Wait! Do you want his Snapchat?” Mairu asks. “He changes his number all the time, but this has been his account for more than a year now.” She shows Shizuo her phone and points at the name “dorian-witness”. Or course Izaya would have a weird ass name, but it's not as strange as it could be.
“Thanks,” Shizuo mumbles.
“Do you even have a Snapchat?”
“Can we pick your name?!” Mairu asks excitedly.
“You're such an asshole!”
He leaves them to their pouting and stalks back over to Vorona and Tom, who thankfully don't ask him what that was about.
In the end, he doesn't send anything to that Snapchat, because he doesn't know what to say, and he doesn't understand how it works.
His next course of action is to walk past Izaya's apartment daily, just in the off chance that Izaya might still visit, like Mairu suggested. Every night, for weeks, he stands outside that building and just waits. It seems no one else lives there, since lights are never on. That's proof enough to Shizuo that Izaya still owns it. A place that swanky would have no problem being occupied otherwise.
One night, over a month later, he stops by after a particularly uneventful day at work. Those days are usually Shizuo's favorite, since he doesn't like fighting, but he does like having an outlet for his anger, and Tom never lets him go too far overboard.
It's pouring down rain and it's pretty chilly outside, but Shizuo doesn't mind so much. He almost lights a cigarette before he remembers the rain will just put it out anyway. He sighs and looks up at the building.
The lights are on.