Izaya walked with a bit more tension in his step than normal through Ikebukuro. His eyes scanned the area closely, ears tuned in to the sounds around him. Getting stabbed again out of nowhere did not sound like the best way to spend his day.
And his enemies threatened much more than just a simple stabbing.
“You seem paranoid.”
The sudden voice made Izaya jerk around to its source. “Ugh, Shinra. Why are you following me?”
“See? That's exactly what a paranoid person would say,” Shinra replied with a satisfied grin.
“I am not,” Izaya said while glancing around, shoulders tight, “paranoid.”
Shinra hummed, shrugging. “Who did you piss off this time? Or are you trying to avoid bumping into Shizuo?”
Izaya’s step changed and his back straightened. Shizuo Heiwajima, the monster of Ikebukuro. That was exactly the kind of person he needed right now.
“Actually I'm looking for Shizu-chan,” Izaya said, mouth curving into its usual place.
“Oh really?” Shinra sounded genuinely surprised, adjusting his glasses as if his eyesight affected his hearing.
“Yes. I need to ask him a question,” Izaya said with more confidence.
Shinra hesitated, measuring his friend's expression. He could tell Izaya had a plan forming behind those cutting eyes. “And what would that be?”
“To be my bodyguard.”
“Your what ?!” Shizuo yelled, slamming his hands on the table.
He was sitting across from the viper himself, Izaya Orihara. The flea he so desperately wanted to pick off of the back of Ikebukuro and fling far away had just asked him an incomprehensible question.
Despite the violence of his response, Izaya didn't flinch. He sat coolly with his legs crossed and hands laced together atop his knees. That annoying smirk never left.
Tom’s mouth opened in surprise, then he noticed the looks from other patrons. “Settle down, Shizuo. You don't want to be kicked out of here too.”
“Yes, I would prefer to keep the negotiations civil,” Izaya chimed in.
Tom didn't look like he wanted the add-on, but saved his response.
Shizuo took a deep breath and sat back down. “First of all,” he began in a low, slightly controlled voice, “why do you need a bodyguard? And second of all, why on earth would you ask me ?”
Izaya's smirk deepened. “Surprising, is it? Though in my line of work, it's really not that hard to believe I would require some protection. And despite your desire to kill me, I'm still here.”
“Only because you keep running away,” Shizuo growled at him.
Izaya shrugged. “With aim like yours, I have to run or end up squished by a soda dispenser.”
“Alright Orihara, what did you do now?” Shizuo asked. His eyes were serious behind those square glasses.
Izaya also got serious. “Why is it that people assume I pissed someone off or did something wrong?” Before Shizuo could respond, he went on. “If you must know, there was a mishap between myself and a crime syndicate in another town. I was tasked to collect information by a client who failed to mention his personal association with the case and ended up being placed on his side of things. It's all a misunderstanding, really, but they're taking it rather seriously.
“As for why I chose you, it's simply because you're the strongest person I know, and I need strength when it comes to this particular enemy.”
Shizuo measured Izaya for a moment with a scowl. “And why do you think I'll agree?”
“I don't. I was just hoping we could at least come to some sort of truce. I can't protect myself against them if I'm dodging road signs thrown by you.”
Shizuo narrowed his eyes, humming deep in his throat. Tom looked from him to Izaya, feeling sweat drip down the back of his neck.
“There's also the money. I'm willing to pay you for the duration of time your services are needed,” Izaya added.
Shizuo was silent for a moment, contemplating the offer. And then: “How much?”