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Any Other Name

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Orihara Izaya likes people.

It’s nothing personal. If it were personal he could muster up something more specific, probably, a touch of condescending amusement or maybe even the warm burn of hatred to flush his skin hot with passion. But he learned years ago that individual relationships with others aren’t worth his time, don’t offer enough amusement or value to be worth the frustration of trying to sustain them, and by the time he started middle school he had long since given up on trying to maintain friendships with people whose interests ran so narrow and uninspired. Better to sit still in class, to let the chatter and conversation of dozens of voices wash over him at once, to pursue the beauty of an ocean instead of the limitations of a stream. There’s no need to form relationships, not yet; better to wait out the rush of desperate friendships that appear at the beginning of the school year, to let the balance settle into a pattern he can make out before he steps in to disrupt it. It might take a week, might take a month, but it doesn’t matter; Izaya’s willing to wait, can muster up patience for this for the advantage it will give him later.

He’s thinking about this on his way down the hall at the end of the first day, overheard conversations filling his thoughts with hypothetical dynamics and possible advantages. He doesn’t look up at the pair of shoes approaching, barely sidesteps to dodge the second-year coming towards him. Upperclassmen will factor into his plans later, if all at; it’s his year he’s interested in first, the dynamics of those he half-knows instead of strangers that he’s drawn to. Time enough to consider the rest of the school once he has a read on those most immediate to his own existence.


Izaya doesn’t look up. He doesn’t know any upperclassmen, he’s sure of it, there’s no way that voice is talking to him.

“Hey.” A pause, another step, and then, “Oi,” sharp and so loud Izaya looks up on reflex, surprise moving him against his intent.

The second year is glaring at him. He’s a little taller than Izaya, a little more filled out in the shoulders; Izaya can see the line of his jaw set clear under his skin from the way the other boy is scowling at him. Dark hair, dark eyes; nothing at all remarkable about him, really, except for the undisguised irritation in his expression and the bruises and half-healed scrapes mottling all the skin Izaya can see. A delinquent, then. That’s not particularly remarkable, either.

“Were you talking to me?” Izaya drawls, tipping his head just to the side to see if he can fan the spark of anger in the other’s expression into an open flame. He holds the pause for a beat, another, then finally appends “Senpai” as if he has just noticed the gap in their ages.

He gets a hiss in response, teeth bared on the edge of violence, hands forming into fists, and for a moment Izaya is bracing for a punch, ready for the quiet of the hallway to shatter with a growl from the other boy. But then that angry gaze slides sideways, out the window to the setting-sun gold by the front gate, and when the other boy grimaces again it has nothing to do with Izaya, the fists he’s made easing into slackness at whatever it is he is seeing out past the glass.

“Wanna start a club?”

Izaya stares for a moment. The question is unexpected, even amid the various scenarios he’s considered, and it’s impossible to parse the words into meaning for the first few seconds. The other boy’s gaze comes back to him, whatever anger was in his eyes dampened to resignation, and Izaya is going to be really offended by that once he figures out what they’re talking about.

“Is this some kind of entrance test?” he asks, glancing at the bruises laid into the other boy’s knuckles and trying to guess how fast an attack might be forthcoming, how quickly he’ll need to move to dodge it.

“Anything you want,” the boy says, and he’s still not moving, his hands are still relaxed. “Biology, or karaoke, or sports.”

“You want to start a baseball team or something?” Izaya says. “I’m fast, but I can’t cover half the positions on my own.”

This gets him an eyeroll, a huff of frustration far more satisfying than the steady concentration he was receiving originally. “There’s already a baseball team,” the other boy says, as if Izaya is an idiot for not knowing this already. “Whatever you want, I just need a club to join.”

“So you’re asking the first first-year you meet?” Izaya says rather than asks. He shrugs, tilts his shoulder up into a refusal and his head sideways into a false apology. “Sorry, senpai, I have better things to do than sing enka with you.” A backwards step, a flash of teeth, and he’s moving away, lifting a hand to wave as he retreats. “Good luck with kidnapping yourself some friends.”

Wait,” comes the growl, but Izaya’s halfway down the hall already, turning away before he can see the shape of anger more than dawn on the other boy’s face.

He’s still grinning. Confusing or not, it’s definitely the most entertainment he’s had all day.