Izaya had one off-day. One day where he didn’t particularly pay attention to the place his newest client, a man named Sorasaki Touma, lived. It was a name he didn’t recognize, why would he? Chances were, they’d be operating in some prefecture he’d never heard of. He’d ask around, get his information, cause trouble, almost get killed, and then collect his payment in both bills and the sweet expressions made by the people he’d screwed over. All in a day’s work. It would be easy.
Or so he thought.
The next day, as he got ready for the trip to his client, he asked an offhanded question to his companion nearby.
“Hey, Sozoro-san,” he started, casual as ever. “Where am I being dragged off to this time, again?”
“I would think this would be information readily available to you,” Sozoro responded.
“I didn’t check,” he admitted nonchalantly, though not knowing was eating away at the back of his mind.
“How irresponsible of you, Izaya-dono.” Sozoro spoke as he always did, but there was something else in his voice. Something that told Izaya he was stalling.
“Come on,” Izaya turned and began to wheel out of the room. “I’ll find out one way or another, why not just tell me now?”
“You may not enjoy the answer,” was the response as Sozoro followed behind him.
Izaya rolled his eyes. “Anywhere with humans is a place to be excited about! Go on,” he insisted.
“Well, I thought you had noticed this when you took the job, Izaya-dono, but your client and the woman you’re meant to investigate currently reside in Ikebukuro.”
Izaya’s hand froze on the joystick of his chair for a fraction of a second before he continued on as if nothing was wrong. He laughed. “Just a test, Sozoro-san. Of course I knew.”
He hadn’t known. Of course, the one time he hadn’t paid attention, he’d locked himself into taking a job in the one place he’d had no intention of returning to in this state he found himself in. Of course, he could just deny the job. Say something had come up. But he did have a reputation to think about, and people were already getting suspicious of the fact that he seemed to ignore any jobs requiring him to appear in Ikebukuro in person. He had to take this.
Izaya was shocked into reality by two hands picking him up out of his chair and placing him in the backseat of a car. He didn’t remember exiting his home, or opening the car door, or anything between the mention of Ikebukuro and now, but that wasn’t an uncommon occurrence. Izaya blamed it on nerves and pushed it out of his mind.
As the car pulled him and his companions out of the parking lot and onto the streets, Izaya pointed his eyes to the world outside. He’d had every intent of people watching as they made the drive, but, as if against his will, his mind began to wander again.
There was no way he wouldn’t be recognized by someone. All it would take was one person saying his name in public, and that monster would probably be able to sniff him out like a hound. But, he’d never had trouble escaping before . If a bit of a chase was what it t-
“Izaya-san!” Haruto’s voice cut through his inner monologue.
Izaya turned a bit to face him, his head tilting to the side. “Yes?”
“Are you okay, Izaya-san?”
“Now, what makes you ask that kind of question?” he asked with a laugh.
“You’re looking out the window.”
“I always do that on car rides, Haruto-kun.”
“But you weren’t looking, though!”
Izaya paused, then laughed again, reaching over and patting Haruto on the head. “You’re getting too observational. No worries, I’m just thinking about how the job will go.”
The kids left him to his thinking, and the car ride went by without much of a fuss after that.
Arriving in Ikebukuro was almost a shock. He’d almost forgotten how many people there were here. He saw the girl whose phone he’d smashed all those years ago and her two friends, sitting on a wall and taking pictures of themselves. He saw Simon and Russian Sushi, and at a stop light, a van with one garish, recognizable door pulled up next to them. It was a marvel how much things hadn’t changed. But there were new faces, too. Children who he didn’t know in Raira uniforms running down the streets. Businessmen with generic faces standing outside of buildings.
It was beautiful.
After a couple minutes, Izaya directed the driver to stop in a nearby parking lot, but he didn’t get out when the door opened for him. Instead, he brought out his wallet and handed Haruto and Himari each a few thousand-yen bills.
“Sozoro-san, would you mind taking Haruto-kun and Himari-chan exploring?” he asked.
“Are you quite sure? You may need some help.”
Izaya laughed and waved a hand dismissively. “Here? No way. Go on. I’ll shoot you a message when I’m done with what I need to do, and then we can meet back here, hm?”
Sozoro looked as if he wanted to protest, but he shut his mouth and nodded, stepping out of the car and motioning for the kids to do the same. They followed, leaving Izaya alone with the driver.
Collecting the information he needed was easy enough. Fortunately, his client and target were part of a circle that had only come to Ikebukuro within the last couple of years, meaning they knew practically nothing but whispers about who he had been in this city.
His target, Makoto Aina, was a woman in her mid-thirties who, according to his client, had started gaining inordinate amounts of money within the last month. Sorasaki noticed this and hired Izaya to ask around, find out what else she had been doing. It had been drug dealing, obviously. He didn’t need to be hired to figure this out, which only made the fact that Sorasaki demanded he come in person a tad more frustrating.
Whatever. He’d just hold out on the information for a bit as revenge. For now…
“Hey hey, Driver-san!” he said, leaning over from the back seat to bother the driver. “Think you could take me to a certain address?”
“That is my job,” the driver answered flatly.
“Great!” Izaya grinned, leaning back and scribbling something on a piece of paper before handing it to the driver, who squinted at it for a second. The driver seemed to accept the address after a moment, tapping it into his GPS and continuing down the streets.
After some more driving, the car pulled up in front of a private looking house, and once Izaya got out of the car and back into his chair with a little bit of difficulty, he directed the driver to stay parked where he was until he came back and handed him a handful of bills to make sure of it.
The elevator ride up was short and silent, his mind seeming to leave him alone for the time being. There was nothing groundbreaking, no fanfare or anything as he went up. Just a soft, underwhelming ding as he got to his floor and wheeled slowly out of the elevator. Just… normality.
It felt wrong.
As he stopped in front of the door, Izaya had second thoughts. Izaya! Second thoughts from Orihara Izaya! As if out of spite to his own emotions, Izaya quickly knocked on the door before he could stop himself. Take that.
From inside, Izaya heard a chipper voice call “Coming!” and rapid footsteps that grew louder until the door swung open.
“Oh, it’s just you,” said Shinra, starting to close the door before pausing. “Wait, it’s you!” he yelled, as if in realization, swinging the door back open and rushing around Izaya, pushing him into the house.
“Is everything okay?” Shinra asked. “Why are you here? Not that I don’t love to see an old friend or anything-” he stuck his tongue out when Izaya reacted with an eye roll. “- but- well- you know! You said you weren’t coming back here!”
Izaya laughed, going through the brief physical pain of crossing one leg over the other and leaning back in his chair. “I got roped into a job here. The client wanted me in person,” he responded with a shrug.
Shinra hmm ed quietly. “Well, alright. Hey, hey! I should tell Celty about this!”
Before Izaya could protest, Shinra was already running down the hall away from him, shouting for his wife(Izaya noted the wedding ring on his hand) and returning with a confused Celty in tow.
Izaya let out another laugh. Ah, Celty and her overreactions. “In the flesh! Did you miss me?”
Izaya, couldn’t you get hurt here? You know that-
He stopped reading after that, waving a hand. “Hurt? Here? When have I ever?” he spoke in a joking tone.
“Well-” Shinra started, but Izaya reached up, dragged him down, and clapped a hand over his mouth.
“Doctor-patient confidentiality, Shinra.”
The doctor only laughed and stood up, Izaya’s hand falling away from his mouth.
The three of them talked like that for a good hour before Izaya claimed boredom and wheeled himself out with a wave and a probably empty promise to keep in touch.
He should return to that parking lot now, shouldn’t he?
He thought for a moment as he whirred down the back alleys he knew so well, having told the driver to just go back to the parking lot himself. He could just let that be it. He could leave, nothing having happened. It would be the best case scenario. Everything else seemed to have… connections.
He could stop at Russian Sushi(their fatty tuna really was unrivaled by anywhere else he’d been- damn those Russians), but he could run into Dotachin and the gang, there. Nothing against Dotachin, but… well, those two otakus weren’t exactly the greatest at keeping their mouth shut, are they?
A loud crash in the distance broke him out of his thoughts, and he froze in place. Oh, no. Oh no.
Breathe, he told himself. There’s no way he could know you’re here. Probably some moron debtor. Now, keep going. And he did, slowly cruising down the back alleys yet again.
After a couple turns, a man sped past Izaya, too focused on escape to notice the informant wheeling himself along.
Izaya cursed his luck. He can’t make his exit the same way that man did. But he can’t go forwards. Well, he could try. He shucked off his jacket and made a sharp 180, speeding back the way he came.
“Don’t think you can get away that easily, little shit!”
It’s not for you. It’s not for you. Make a turn somewhere, and you’re home free.
But he knew that wouldn’t be the case. As thunderous footsteps pounded the ground behind him and drew ever closer, Izaya was reminded that in this chair, even with his enhancements, he was too slow. If he’d used to be just one step ahead, now, he was neck and neck at best. And that was too slow. He wasn’t aiming to taunt, he wasn’t aiming to anger or tease anymore, he was aiming to get out.
And then, the footsteps caught up, and he was running alongside Izaya’s speeding wheelchair.
Izaya stopped his wheelchair just as he caught up, the sudden halt launching him out of the chair and onto the ground with a quiet grunt. With effort, he pushed himself up and dragged himself back into his chair, brushing off his shoulders and sighing before moving his hand to his chair’s joystick to turn back around and leave. He was free.
His internal celebration was interrupted by the sound of heavy breathing from just up ahead. The kind you hear from feral, stray dogs who’ve long since forgotten any semblance of humanity they once had contact with. Izaya looked up slowly, met eyes with the man who was once his arch-nemesis, and he froze again, as if a lack of movement would just throw him off the scent.
“Didn’t,” the man growled. “I tell you. Not. To come back here?”
Izaya swallowed past the lump in his throat and stilled his slightly shaking hands. No. He was not going to be scared of this brute. So, he forced a laugh. “Did you? I’ve forgotten. Long time no see, Shizu-chan.”
“I-zay-a-kun,” Shizuo drawled, stepping forwards with each syllable. “I think I remember telling you to never return.”
“You sound like a broken record. What are you going to do about it, hm? Are you going to hurt an injured man?” the informant taunted, appearing as nonchalant as ever.
“You would. I doubt you’re even hurt. Just faking it for some stupid job,” Shizuo accused, still breathing heavily, standing still with his fists clenched, whatever debtor he was after long gone by now.
“Oh, quite the contrary, Shizu-chan.” Izaya shook his head. “I’m wounded. You don’t even remember your own work?”
“Yours!” he responded almost gleefully, clapping his hands together once and leaning forwards. “Can’t even walk now,” he lied. “Irreversible,” he lied.
“Shut up,” the monster replied, reaching for the fire escape to one of the buildings that lined the alley and tearing it out of the wall. “Shut up.”
“Well, sorry, Shizu-chan, but I had to tell you the truth, you know?” Izaya grinned, an expression akin to maybe Satan himself. “Do you take me for a liar?”
“Don’t make me laugh, I-zay-a-kun,” he said, and then the entire fire escape was brought swinging down to the spot where Izaya sat.
And he couldn’t move. He should have been able to run, to escape, but he couldn’t. All he could see was that steel beam from years ago, all he could think as he sat frozen was that this was it, this was where he finally met retribution-
But it didn’t come. Izaya lifted his head from where it hid in his arms(he had no memory of placing it there) and looked up, and the fire escape was paused just above him.
“Why-” Shizuo started, still breathing heavily. “Why aren’t you running?”
Izaya laughed, a forced sound. “Miss the chase, Shizu-chan?” He backed up then, faster than normal wheelchair speed.
“Of course not,” he responded, but followed anyways when Izaya spun around and began speeding down the alleyway.
This was bad. There was no way this wouldn’t end badly. He should have just called the driver to come get him. He shouldn’t have left without him in the first place, and now he was going to die here. Just like before, except Kine wasn’t here to save him this time.
Shizuo didn’t make his escape easy, practical spears of metal from the fire escape launching themselves at Izaya’s wheelchair and forcing him to swerve to avoid them.
After a chase that brought Izaya’s mind to the golden days and his heart rate to an all time high, Izaya found himself at a dead end, having forgotten his inability to jump fences in the heat of the moment.
He knew this would end badly.
Turning as Shizuo caught up, Izaya forced a grin. “Congratulations. You’ve caught me. Ready to claim your prize?” he asked, spreading his arms. “Go ahead.”
“You’re doing what you did last time,” Shizuo said, almost calm, and Izaya hated it. “Trying to get me to kill you.”
“Of course. Oh, how I wish I could prove to the world once and for all how much of a monster you are.”
“That’s not why you’re doing it.”
Izaya paused, then tilted his head to the side, laughing again. “No? Then why am I doing it, oh mighty Izaya expert?”
Shizuo grit his teeth, but didn’t make a move to hurt him. Seems he’s actually learned a bit of temper control. “You’re scared. ”
Izaya almost couldn’t control his laughter at that, despite the fact that the monster was correct. “Scared? Of you? Don’t pull a muscle from reaching too far.”
“Shut up. That’s why you were… fucking cowering earlier. And your hands are shaking right now. You’re scared.”
And then, what was left of the fire escape was being lifted again, and Izaya flinched ever so slightly, but it wasn’t thrown at him. It was bent practically in half and thrown off to the side with a shout. Maybe Shizuo’s anger management wasn’t all that great.
Izaya stilled his shaking hands again, crossing them over his chest. “Are you sure you’re not suffering from delusions, Shizu-chan?”
“Shut up!” the brute yelled. “You’re fucking scared? You’re fucking scared!”
“So repetitive, as always. Saying it over and over won’t make it true, you know.”
But it was , was the thing. Shizuo was right. Izaya had always hated that- how Shizuo could be a complete imbecile one second and then weirdly intelligent the next. He hated that Shizuo was so attentive, now. Or, maybe, he always was, and Izaya hadn’t bothered to notice. It wouldn’t be the first thing that Izaya had failed to see about the man.
“-me, you fucking know I’m right, and- are you even fucking listening?”
Oops. He needed to quit doing that.
Shizuo looked… angry. He always did, when it came to Izaya. But it felt different. As someone who’s known Shizuo’s anger, who’s experienced it, been the object of it for so many years, Izaya could tell there was something off.
That anger wasn’t directed towards Izaya. But then…
Shizuo turned, and, out of nowhere(or maybe Izaya had missed another bout of speech), drove his fist into the nearby wall.
Was he angry at himself?
That made no sense.
“What did the wall ever do to you, Shizu-chan?” Izaya asked, condescending and acting as if nothing out of the ordinary was going on.
“Shut up. You don’t get to-” he turned. “You fucking flea. You have the nerve to come waltzing back into Ikebukuro, and it turns out you’re permanently injured because of me, and fucking scared of me?”
“It isn’t permanent,” was what Izaya chose to focus on.
“What are you-”
“That was a lie. The doctors said I can heal, with therapy,” he admitted with a nonchalant shrug.
“The hell? Then why-”
“Why would I? This chair cost too much just to throw it away like that, you know.”
Shizuo stared Izaya down for a moment. Izaya watched his eyes, easily visible without his stupid glasses, flick back and forth, then widen with realization.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a car to get back to, and a city to leave. May I?” Izaya asked, gesturing at the area past Shizuo.
Shizuo stepped to the side, seeming nearly dumbfounded as Izaya quietly wheeled himself past him and began making his way back to the parking lot.
“Hey,” came the voice from behind him. Izaya ignored it.
“Get that fucking therapy, dumbass.”
Izaya grit his teeth, a short laugh escaping his closed mouth for a moment before he turned a corner and immediately started speeding back towards the parking lot.
When he got there, Haruto, Himari, and Sozoro were all waiting for him, along with the driver.
“Ah, did I take that long?” Izaya smiled sheepishly. “Sorry, sorry.”
“... You’re not dead,” Himari spoke flatly. “Hm.” She got into the car without another word.
Haruto immediately launched off into a story of how the entire day had gone for him, a monologue that Izaya pretended to be listening to with mhm s and oh, wow! s as he was lifted into the car.
As Haruto went on and the car got going down the busy streets of Ikebukuro, Izaya rolled down his window and stared out at the bustling city life.
He smiled at the echoing sound of a horse, of all things, in the distance. He chuckled to himself as the voice of one Kida Masaomi carried over the sounds of traffic, now clearly a genuinely humorous, happy noise instead of the mask it had once been.
And, as the car slowed down to make a turn, Izaya locked eyes with a pair of identical girls. One grinned and winked at him, and the other simply nodded to acknowledge his existence. They were with a group of people who seemed to be their friends… and they seemed to be doing well.
Izaya would never admit it, but he was relieved at the fact.
Maybe, he realized. Maybe the world, or perhaps just Ikebukuro, can turn just fine without him.