"They don't know what love is. Here they learn what hate is, and I am so sad that they might never know love because hate came first." -A.S. King, Everybody Sees the Ants
Orihara Izaya wasn't like other children while growing up.
He saw things a different way the rest of them did, he understood things different, so it was no surprise he never had any friends. He was an outcast even before he turned five years, in his firsts interactions with the world, everyone gave him the cold shoulder.
But, far from upsetting him, he found it fascinating. The way boys his age would cry in an attempt to get something, or the way they just accepted everything they were told with a blind faith in adults. They didn't think things through, all their actions were irrational, and the way they were curious and afraid at the same time of everything different amazed the boy.
But for Izaya, nothing could be more interesting that relationships. How people of all ages interacted with each other.
Kids would automatically trust and cling to their parents, even though they understood next to nothing about who those people really were.
Izaya's mother said it was normal, that kids felt attracted to the comfort and feeling of protection their parents provided. She never seemed hurt that her son didn't felt that way about her, she probably attributed it to her being at work most of the time.
"I don't understand it, mother. Why would someone would be so upset about something that didn’t happened to them? It doesn't affect their life in any way."
So, she tried to satisfy his curiosity about human conduct, but most of the time she could only give him an answer.
"Feelings doesn’t always have a logical reason, Izaya, sometimes they just are. People try to be sensitive about other people's problems, and share their feelings, it's called empathy. Not everything about human conducts can be rational."
Izaya didn’t like that, he wanted things he could analyze, and so he stopped trying to get reason for people's feelings, and instead he started to predict them. How would they react to a certain situation, what would they chose if they were faced with the choice? Izaya saw right through people feelings and it was as easy for him to make them do what he wanted, as for the rest of the child to control their toys.
It wasn't like he didn't have feelings at all, he did, they were just different. Something that would make any child his age make a tantrum, would just cause a mild annoyance to him, and he would just have to think a different way to make things work the way he wanted.
When he had nine years, his sisters were born. His parents tried to prepare him to have to share the attention with the twins, something that in most cases would cause a resentment between the siblings with an age difference of so many years, but truth to be told, Izaya just couldn´t care less.
Babies were boring, they didn't make decisions, nor they had thoughts more complex than if they were hungry or sleepy. Nothing that could keep his attention. But, indeed, they took away his mother's.
And he didn't care, his parents' attention was as relevant as the one from a completely stranger to him. In fact, he didn't notice his mother had stopped explaining emotions to him until he was sitting in a classroom and the teacher told them to write a list of all the people they love, and Izaya started comprehending that humans were far more complicated than he originally thought. Love? What was he supposed to write? He knew what love was, at least in definition, but he had never tried to apply it in his life. It was far too irrational, he had no way of telling if a person would love someone or not. He watched as his classmates wrote the names of their family and their friends. That was what he was supposed to write, it was expected from a child to love their family. Those kids had love imposed to them even before they could really comprehend it. Izaya didn't write anything, even after the teacher told him he had to love someone, Izaya just shrugged and enjoy the face of his confused teacher.
The moment he arrived his house, Izaya read all he could about human emotions, he wanted so bad to understand them, but it was all so confusing. All he could find it was people talking with metaphors and hyperboles and it just didn't make any sense. He already knew his precious humans were desperate to be in company of others, but this was... too much. Why would someone kill themselves just because other person didn't return their feelings? And why would someone feel empty and alone just because one specific person wasn't with them?
No, Izaya didn't understand love at all, but there was something in his investigation that caught his eye, hate.
Just like love, it has romanticized beyond salvation most of the information, but even those were far more intriguing for him. A person you wanted so desperately to make feel miserable that you would do everything, even at the expense of your own happiness, to make them suffer? A true marvel.
It was so wonderful! Humans could still surprise him like this, like they wanted to make sure they still had his attention. Like he could just forget about them! They should know he wouldn't just do that, after all...
Izaya smile at where this train of thought was going to.
His precious humans, no matter what they did Izaya was never let down, he would always take delight in all they did, and he would watch them from afar, making sure everything about them was the way he liked it. His smile grew fascinated.
Before that day, Izaya never knew how to call the way he felt about humans. But after that...
He decided to call it love.
When Izaya enter High School, it was the first time a human stood out of all the rest at first glance. Of course, through the years a few humans had caught his attention more than the rest. Kishitani Shinra, for example, was someone he could consider a friend. Even his sisters, in a desperate attempt to get his attention, had chosen their style and personality to be the opposite one of each other. Even if they were just two more of all the humans he claimed to love, he had to admit they sometimes were more entertaining to watch.
But this was different. The moment Izaya saw him, every part of him screamed for him, but why?
Everything about him surprised Izaya, and he just couldn't stand to stay back, he needed to be closer to him, the blond wasn't someone he could just watch from afar. He was just so different from the rest, it was impossible not to notice him trying to blend with the crowd. Izaya never went out of his way to get to personally know someone, but this time he did.
"You piss me off" were the first words the one who would be known as the strongest man in Ikebukuro ever said to him before trying to hit him. And years later he would still refuse to admit that the rejection affected him more than it should, that it hurt him like nothing ever did. But in that moment, he didn't think, he stabbed him, and the chase started.
It was something Izaya couldn't quite explain, but it was something without a doubt. The way his heart would beat faster at the mere sight of him, it was impossible to ignore. It was terrible, and he had a feeling it would kill them both eventually, but he couldn't stop, it felt so good.
The problem was, Izaya was supposed to love all humans equally, despite their flaws or gifts. But the feeling in his chest every time he saw Shizu-chan, the way he ached for him or even the way he was completely unpredictable, it was completely different, and Izaya couldn't just accept that. The way he ached when he saw Shizuo being civilized with other people the way he never tried to be with him, wasn't something he should feel.
What was it? Why did this human could make him be so reckless, even if the rest of his life was perfectly planned? He would think about Shizuo all the time, even when he wasn't doing it in an active way, just a part of his brain was always wandering what was the blonde up to.
It was because he could have hurt his beloved humans, he tried to justify himself, but it was so painfully obvious the lie in there, that he never tried telling it out loud.
It was not about humans, he still felt the same way about them, it was about Shizuo. The one who insisted to throw things at Izaya, chase him around all the city, terrifying every single one who saw them. The guy who could catch a knife with his teeth and claimed that he could even smell Izaya's stink! Shizu-chan was far too in contact with his animalistic nature.
And something clicked inside Izaya's head with that. He didn't love Shizu-chan like he loved the rest of the humans because he wasn't human, he was a monster. Yes, that made sense.
Their relationship wasn't something Izaya had ever experienced before. The need for each other, it was an addiction. An addiction far worse than nicotine or caffeine could ever be.
He spent hours thinking what he could do now to captive Shizuo's attention, speculating what would drive him to the edge. He wanted to make him loose control, stop holding back his unnatural force, and he wanted Shizuo to do it all for him.
This new obsession made him ecstatic, it was like an adrenaline injection every time he saw him, his own personal drug.
He felt the need to remind him what he was, and to make sure the humans wouldn't try to tame the beast, but above all, he needed to know the protozoan thought about him all the time, that he was always at the corner of his mind, just like Shizuo was in Izaya´s.
The adrenaline of the chase, insults threw at each other, along with knives and everything that crossed the blonde's path, and promises of killing the other, they shouldn´t excite Izaya as much as they do, but he didn't care, because while they ran, it was as if he was alone with Shizuo in the world, just he and his monster, and that thrilled him more than any human would ever do.
He didn't know what this feeling was called, but it was intense, draining, suffocating and painful.
He decided to call it hate.
As the years went by, he really tried not to think too much about his own feelings anymore, he came to the conclusion that he felt too different from his humans to try and compare, but it was okay to him, just another thing that make him feel more like a God for all of them.
He no longer had people wanting him to act normal, no one gave a shit about him nowadays, and that was supposed to make him feel free, but instead it caused an awful sensation of void in his chest, he never tried to name it. There was only someone who cared for what he did, even if it was for bad reasons, and it was the same "someone" who made all the aching in his chest go away.
He tried not to think too hard about why the protozoan had such an effect in him.
But one day after a particular exhausting chase with his enemy, the monster of Ikebukuro, he founded himself having problems falling asleep. This wasn't anything new, Izaya slept very little without need of a reason, but this time something was occupying his mind.
He knew this must have been an error, but he was so sure Shizu-chan was missing with his projectiles directed at him on purpose, they fell to far, he had better aim than that. So, why was he pretending to fight Izaya, but wasn't doing any effort to actually win? And why did that make Izaya so annoyingly happy?
When he was finally able to fall asleep, he dreamed about a classroom, and a blank sheet, and a teacher asking him to write the name of the people he loved the most, and this time he did. But he woke before being able to read what the Izaya in the dream had written.
He had an annoying feeling in his heart, when he woke up that morning and a voice in the back of his head whispered that something was terribly wrong with him.
“When we don't know who to hate, we hate ourselves.” -Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters
Longing. That was a feeling Izaya was far too familiar with to try to deny it. After all, in the sleepless nights, his only company being himself, what could he do except think? Think about how different his life would have been if only he were normal.
Sometimes he longed to be as the rest of his beloved humans, who could easily surround themselves with people without a worry, who acted in what they felt, even if that wasn't the logical decision. They lived a live where tomorrow guarded a thousand surprises for them, for Izaya it wasn't like that.
Of course, there were little surprises now and then, but mostly he knew what was going to happen, when, where, and who would be involved, and even if he liked it that way, he felt like something was missing.
The more he thought about it, the more he came to one conclusion: his life was loathsome.
It was good at the beginning, or at least he liked to think that. The info broker, one of the two more dangerous men in Ikebukuro. He had a lot of money, making a living of watching his humans, and playing with their destiny as if it was just a game of chess. And for him, it was.
But in the end, he was human, and he couldn't be okay with only that.
His love for humanity was something safe. He loved them all, and no one love him in return. This unrequited feeling never hurt him. Because he couldn't trick himself, he knew the truth.
Loving everyone was like not loving anyone at all.
And that was fine, he never loved anyone, he wasn't like the rest of humanity. His parents were just acquaintances, Mairu and Kururi were just little inconveniences he had to take care of in the multiples ocations their parents were overseas for work until they learnt to take care of themselves.
Shinra, his only friend, didn't care for him. The only thing he cared about was his beloved Celty, and even if he could amuse himself a little by being Izaya's friend, in the end he could die any day and the doctor would only care if that brought problems to him or the dullahan.
Namie was only there because she needed the job and it was very helpful for him to have an assistant. Kadota was also an acquaintance at best.
There ended the list of the people that knew him and didn't despise him. Though he wasn't so sure about Namie and the twins.
That was the painful truth. His humans despised him, and he couldn’t help but feeling hurt.
Because Shizuo was a monster, but even he wasn’t alone. He was surrounded by people who loved him.
Humans should love Izaya. Him, who loved them in spite of who they were or the crimes they have committed. Instead, they hated him.
And he couldn’t even blame the beast for that, it was only his fault.
He was cruel.
He was heartless.
He was despicable.
A fucking blood-sucking flea at best. How cruel that it was Shizuo the one who had been right about him this whole time.
It was his fault that everyone hated him, but he couldn’t help it, he didn’t know how else to be. He didn’t choose to be like this, it was just the way he was—
Ah, so this was it. Izaya sighted as the puzzle in his mind finally started to settle. He had never understood his emotions, but he thought he knew what this was. A familiar feeling that had accompanied him all his life, and he finally was able to give it a name.
It was almost liberating to know the truth.
Izaya hated himself.
Izaya loved to spend time playing with humans. It was easy, but never boring, and it was distracting. It had kept him from thinking about his feelings for almost ten years, but in the end, he couldn’t run way from it for the rest of his life, even if he wanted it so much.
His mind was the one puzzle he has never been able to solve, but far from interesting him, it frustrated him.
So, what if he hated himself? It shouldn’t change anything, he should be able to ignore it and keep going on with his life. But there was something else wrong, and he couldn’t quite identify it.
Until he could.
It had started like any other day. He had business in Ikebukuro, so he went to his meeting. It was obviously a trap, but he was curious about what this man would try, so he went anyway.
In the end, it was just another boring ambush. Really, he wouldn’t complain if this people started being more creative, it was the second time this month!
And, as expected, Izaya walked out of it with no more than a little scratch in the cheek. He was a little careless for a second, just a slip.
But of course, this was Ikebukuro, and a certain monster there claimed he could smell Izaya from a long distance, so he wasn’t lucky enough to avoid him.
"Izaya-kun..." Screamed the blond right before throwing the first thing he saw.
"Shizu-chan, your mother never told you that throwing vending machines at people is rude? Maybe she was too busy repairing all the things you broke. I can’t really blame her."
This time he had to dodge a traffic signal, and he started to run.
"Why not instead of talking, you fucking flea stop running so I can beat the shit out of you?"
Ah, Shizuo, a master of oratory like always.
"Unlike a certain monster I know, I have a lot of things I need to do, so I can’t have you killing me. Can I, Shizu-chan?"
"What the fuck would you need to do? The world would be a better place If I killed you once and for all."
Those were the words the ex-bartender has been telling him for years, he wondered why they still hurt him after all this time, even if just a little.
"Such an awful thing to say, do you want to hurt my feelings? What a heartless protozoan you are."
"You don’t have feelings. And I’m not saying anything that isn’t true. There’s no one who would mourn the dead of a fucking flea like you, everyone would be happier."
I know that, Shizu-chan, Izaya thought, but why does it hurt so much when you say it?
"If I stopped coming to Ikebukuro you would miss me. I’m the only one with whom you let yourself be the beast you are."
"The day I finally kill you, I’ll be the happiest."
"Then I guess I’ll just have to kill you first. I can’t let my precious humans be left alone with a dangerous monster like you."
But his words no longer carried the venom they usually did. For a reason he didn’t comprehend, those words had hurt him more than they usually did. He didn’t say anymore as he lost his persecutor in the crowd.
Shizuo hated him, that he knew. It had been like that since they met.
And he had heard those words from tens dozens of people, but they weren't supposed to hurt him. But why does the idea of Shizuo being happy after his dead was so dreadful?
He wasn’t supposed to forget about Izaya. He had twisted the blonde's life to the point everything in it was because of him. He was supposed to think of Izaya as much as Izaya thought of him. That was the whole point of making the life of Shizuo miserable!
To remind him of what he was.
He liked to think he wanted Shizuo to hate him as much as he hated him. He wanted Shizuo to hate him more than Izaya hated himself. But suddenly that hate punctured his heart more than nothing ever had.
He wished he had kept ignoring his emotions till the end.
But he didn’t, instead he dialed a number he hadn’t call in years, ready to make the question he should have asked her a long time ago.
"Izaya?" Asked the voice, obviously confused at the sudden call.
"Can I ask you a question, mother?" The words tasted bitter in his mouth. The last time he had asked that was more than 15 years ago. The last time he had talked to his mother was more than 5 years ago.
The line was silence for a moment.
"I didn’t think I would hear you say those words again." The woman sounded almost suspicious, but kept talking "What’s your question?"
He didn’t say anything for a while, he even contemplated the possibility of ending the call in that moment. His mother would see right through his question, there was no way to make his motives more ambiguous. He wasn’t even sure he wanted to hear the answer at all.
He asked anyway.
"What is love?"
It was really lame. The powerful informant, Izaya Orihara, alone in his apartment, asking a question like that to his mother, so afraid of the answer as a child would be afraid of darkness.
"I guess we’re talking about romantic love, aren’t we? That’s... not something I can just answer. Love is the most complex of all human emotion." She said that, but it was too cruel to leave him like that, he must have been so desperate to call her and ask her, even when he had learnt as a child she couldn’t give the answer he wanted, so she tried anyway. "Love is something... egoist. And selfless. You want this person to be happy, even if it isn’t with you, but hate the thought of them with someone else more, to the point you would rather see them miserable. You would do everything for that person, but most of the time you don’t do anything because of the fear of rejection. Nothing can make you as happy or as miserable as love. It really is something complicated, even for... the rest of the humans"
She didn’t like to say it like that, as if Izaya wasn’t a normal human, but knew Izaya would understand she didn’t mean it in a bad way. Even if she was never the best mother, and was a little absent in her children lives, she loved them as much as any mother loved her kids.
The unconditional love of a mother is another thing that never made much sense to Izaya.
"If you want my opinion" she added when realized her son wouldn’t answer, "I think that if after all this time you had to ask me that question, it probably do is love. And I think you already know that, and just had hope that talking with me would made you realize it was a mistake. But I suppose I could be wrong, you’re the expert in humans and their emotions after all."
Those words sounded like mockery in Izaya’s ears. The woman knew she was right, and he could feel the satisfaction in her voice at being able to read him.
He didn’t expect her to say something more, so her next words caught him with his guard low.
"It’s that Heiwajima guy, isn’t it? The boy you always fought with in High School, although your sisters have told me you still fight a lot this days."
His chest ached with the mention of the blond. He wasn’t ready to admit it, much less to hear it from other.
"That mere suspicion is insulting, mother. Why would I be in love with that beast? To think so lowly of you own son..."
He had always been the perfect liar, why now his words sounded so empty?
"There's never been someone else.You said you can’t love any human in a special way, so decided to make him a monster."
He hung up the phone, refusing to listen another word that woman had to say. Who did she think she was? Just because she was pregnant for nine months, and procured he didn’t die as a child, did she thought she had this motherly instinct to know why did he acted like he did?
That was ridiculous, an insult to his complex psyche.
So how the hell was she right?
In the end, Izaya had to accept his feelings. It would be highly inconvenient to keep denying them.
But that didn’t change anything. Shizuo hated him. And it was okay, because hate is also a passionate emotion.
He didn’t need Shizuo to love him, it wasn’t necessary, and he wouldn’t know what to do if for the first time in his life his feelings were returned.
All he needed was to be Shizu-chan’s most important person. If it was because for the extreme hatred he professed to him, then so it be.
He just needed to bother Shizuo a little more. Remind him that, even if he tried to trick himself into thinking he could live a normal life just because he had more people being foolish enough to befriend him, he would fail in the end. He wouldn’t be able to control his inhuman strength, he would end up hurting someone he cared about. And he would unleash all his rage on Izaya.
Shizuo could only be the beast they both knew he was with Izaya, he needed him.
And what is love, if not a passional feeling full of dependence and obsession?
“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” ― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
The cognitive dissonance theory refers to a situation in which a person has conflicting attitudes believes or behaviors that cause a feeling of discomfort and psychological stress.
For example, Izaya had the firm belief that human emotions such as jealousy or loneliness didn’t affect him. This was a deep-rooted belief in Izaya, as old as his consciousness, and a fundamental pillar in his personality
But the last time he went to Ikebukuro to meet a client, he started hearing rumors. This was nothing out of normal for him, taking in count his line of job, but this one was especially hard to let slip. Because it had all of the city skeptical, and this was a city were the Headless Ridder and a man who could throw vending machines as if they weighted no more than book were part of the daily life. It was pretty difficult to surprise the population of Ikebukuro, but this made it
Heiwajima Shizuo, the Monster of Ikebukuro, had a date.
Even the words left an unsavory taste in Izaya’s mouth, it was a piece of information difficult to process. Of course, his first though was that it was just a misunderstanding, it was the most logical explanation, and the one he wanted to believe.
As a good informant nonetheless, he had to corroborate this. Fortunately, Shizu-chan and him had a lot of acquaintances in common, so it wasn’t difficult to find some reliable information.
Unfortunately, he didn’t want the answers he got. It seemed that his beast had managed to get a date with that co-worker of him, the Russian assassin.
And there was this disgusting feeling inside of him. It burned inside of him, and he wanted nothing more than go to Vorona’s house and teach her not to mess with what was his. And the logical part of him classified that as jealousy.
But it didn’t end there. Knowing that Shizuo could just go and try to have a girlfriend, have a life outside of his hate of Izaya, it made him felt as if someone has extirped his heart out his chest. The same part of his brain classified that as loneliness.
And so, this is where the cognitive dissonance takes place. Izaya’s beliefs were that he was different from the rest of the human, above all of them, and in consequence he didn’t felt those petty emotions. But the information he was now provided indicated he could indeed feel such emotions with the same intensity as the rest of them. And it didn’t end there, Izaya knew himself enough to be almost sure that, even if not with the same recklessness as any other person, he was about to act on those feelings.
He never acted on his feelings.
Now, there were three different pats he could take to eradicate the dissonance.
The first was to reduce the importance of the cognitions.
This one was, of course, infeasible. The foundations in which Izaya had constructed his personality were too profound to just dismiss their importance. And it would be foolish of Izaya to downplay feelings that would have a good grasp of his actions. This option was discarded.
The second one was to acquire new information that outweighed the dissonant belief.
This one was temptress. If he could just justify these emotions without invalidating his beliefs, just as he had done when he declared Shizuo a monster and not one of his precious humans, the problem would be solved and he would be able to ignore these feelings.
But, no matter how much he thought, he just didn’t know what information he lacked, which part of the bigger picture he wasn’t seeing.
He didn’t come up with any idea, and that left him with the last option.
The third option was to change one or more of the attitudes, behaviors or beliefs to make the relationship between the two elements a consonant one.
If only he could change his feelings to disrupt the dissonance, he wouldn’t had had this problem in the first place.
Change his beliefs...
That meant he would no longer believe he was a god for the humans he loved so much. He would have to admit he was just as the rest of them, no one special. He didn’t want that, it wasn’t worth it. But his human instinct to eliminate the dissonance was already kicking in.
It was pathetic, really. He told Namie she had the day off so she wouldn’t bother him, he canceled all his meetings for the day, he even went as far as turning off most of his cellphones.
Of course, not all of them, even in the middle of an existential crisis he was sensible enough to know it was a terrible idea to risk being needed by Awakusu-Kai for some urgent business and not picking up his phone. He had an image to maintain, after all.
An image of a god who couldn’t be bothered by nuisances of the life like the humans he takes delight in watching. Nothing stopped him, he had no rival, no one could hurt him.
Nothing farer away from reality.
Ironically enough, if you asked people who they though could face Izaya as an equal, people would think of The Monster of Ikebukuro. They had seen them fought, none of them getting hurter than a few bruises or cuts. Force and intelligence balancing each other, neither capable of overpowering their enemy.
It was just poetic justice that in the end Shizuo did managed to break Izaya, just that it wasn’t with a punch, or a vending machine. He didn’t even intend it.
Who would have thought the mighty informant of Ikebukuro could have emotions as any human?
And who would have thought his heart would break just as easily?
Probably Shinra, he had an awful habit of being able to read Izaya.
He had clung to an illusion he had created many years ago, and now he was stripped of his façade he was left with a feeling impotence and weakness he hated.
He was just a human, even if smarter than the average, at the end he was as weak, as predictable, as defenseless... No.
Izaya Orihara wasn’t defenseless. He was in control of all of Ikebukuro and Shinjuku, god dammit!
He would regain the advantage in the game, he would win the game.
And the solution was easy, it had been there all along. As if nothing had changed, his future resume in two possible outcomes once again:
He would kill Shizuo, or he would die at the monster’s hands.
It was a real shame it had to come to this, but it was the only way. Izaya wouldn’t stand seeing Shizuo having a disgusting domestic life with some girl stupid enough to believe she could tame the beast. Izaya wasn’t a man who wasted his efforts, and he had been working for years in making sure Shizuo was obsessed with him, and procured the monster emerged a little more each passing day.
His work wouldn’t be in vain.
There was a lot of work left to do. Izaya couldn’t just go and kill Shizuo, God knows that if it were that easy he would have done so years ago. And, deep inside, he didn’t want Shizuo dead, because that would leave him with a hole in his chest he was sure would never heal. But if he took advantage of his survival instincts, maybe he could pull it off.
But he would have to be really desperate, at the very verge of dying. It was a dangerous bet, but it was his only option. To infuriate Shizuo more than ever, he would push him to the edge, to the point the beast would no longer respond to reason. He needed Shizuo to be ready to truly kill him to wake up his instincts and, if he was lucky, the adrenaline would be enough to manage to take his nemesis’ life once and for all.
The best part was that even if he failed in killing the protozoan, he would still win! Shizuo would be killing a human, completely on purpose. He wouldn't’ be able to deny his monstrosity any more after that. It would be a psychological scar so profound he would never heal. He wouldn’t be able to even see himself in the mirror. The man that hated violence massacring someone. Not a day would pass without him thinking about Izaya, it would mark him for life. Perfect.
He wouldn’t let any other human get near him, his self-loath and fear for himself would be enough to isolate him once and for all from the rest of humanity.
No one would touch Izaya’s monster ever again!
This was a game he would win, no matter the outcome. Just as he liked.
Just as it must be.
“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Have you ever wondered how things would have been had you done something different, Namie? Like what would have happened if you hadn’t show Seiji Celty’s head or something like that. The endless possibilities of a life far better of the one you have, if only you have done something slightly different, or in another moment. If you have met someone in different circumstances...”
Nowadays, listen to Izaya’s ramble was as much of Namie’s job as the paperwork or scheduling meetings. She hated it, it was disgusting to listen the twisted thoughts of a delusional man, but she had caught some patterns to the point she sometimes managed to discern the real motives behind the ramble. Most of the times she didn’t care, the motives being as despicable as the owner, but sometimes she caught glimpses of Izaya’s real feelings, and even if for morbid, it was interesting the possibilities of who could it be under the image of an asshole he had carefully created.
“What? Are you insinuating that the mighty Orihara Izaya can feel regret? Or maybe that there are some things that even you weren’t able to control? The curse of the inevitability that us humans are force to deal with. Could it be it also affects you?” Her tone full of bitterness and sarcasm, but a genuine curiosity underneath. Izaya didn’t like to admit that things could go different of what he wanted, and so he hide in a lie that his love for human made him love all the outcomes.
Such a repulsive liar, the curiosity of what could have made something so close to truth come out of his mouth was enough for she to ignore the comment about her loved brother. Just for this once.
“Of course not. I love everything my dear humans do, even when they don’t let my control their actions, in the end I always take delight in the results. But I’ll give you that your words have caught my interest. ’The curse of the inevitability’, could it be that Namie is a secret romantic and believes in things like destiny?”
“Obviously not, I think that’s a lazy excuse for people who doesn’t want to take responsibility for their life. I personally found that an act of cowardice, but I admit that sometimes there are things that seem to be meant to be. No matter how much you think about them, there could only be one outcome. Or maybe that’s another excuse because we think as unimaginable the actions we must had made to give a different result. However, I’m a scientist, so I don’t really care for ’what if’s’ as much of what was.”
Izaya’s laughter resonated in the whole apartment, as if Namie had just said the best joke he had ever heard. But it was a hollow laugh, hiding the true feelings behind it.
“Clearly, I should have known the pragmatic Yagiri Namie wouldn’t let anyone take credit for her actions or feelings, not even destiny. Your perspectives are as amusing as ever, but I have to disagree with you in something. I don’t think believing in destiny is coward, I think it is an act of hopelessness. Because if a man finds himself in the worst of situations, with no longer hope of things getting better, it would crush him to think it was his complete fault. A little bit of comfort in times of need humans have to give to themselves. Isn’t hilarious, Namie?”
She looked at the clock, and decided it was enough of putting up with her boss for the day. Anyway, is obvious she wouldn’t find out what was he thinking this time, and her curiosity wasn’t enough to keep trying. She started collecting her things.
“I’m finished for today.”
“You’re lucky you have a boss as permissive as I am. Most wouldn’t accept their secretary living when she wanted.” He said, if only to have the last word on the matter, to feel some sense of control over it.
She had finished the paperwork he gave her, so there was no real reason to keep her there, or at least no reason Izaya would admit out loud.
“In case you do are interested,” she resumed in her way to the door, “I still think is coward, and no, I don’t think of it as hilarious. More as pathetic. And I don’t know what made you bring this up, nor do I care, but I’m certain that whatever had happened, it was in its entirety your fault. Goodbye.”
She slammed the door as she left.
Everything was in silence for a few minutes until Izaya, who was still at his desk, turn to the head of the dullahan on it.
“Do you agree with her, Celty?” he asked, already use to the silence that followed his questions every time. “If you are anything like the rest of you, you probably do. Your body this has predisposition to assume everything Is my fault. I personally think her choice of best friend is partially to blame about that. Still, it is a good question, and probably the first thing I have felt so much curiosity for.”
Izaya had no control left over his life, even if he pretended otherwise. Of course, he still had his plans for bringing war to Ikebukuro, and he still had people which would do what he wanted if he just pushed them a little in the right direction. But everything was numb for him.
He hadn’t seen Shizuo in months. He knew it was the right thing to do, he was far too busy for distraction, but the absence of the beast is his life made him feel empty, and he couldn’t stop himself from thinking.
“Do you think, Celty, had Shinra presented us in another moment, Shizu-chan and I could have been friends?"
The silence in the room was absolute, just as Izaya’s mind. He didn’t know the answer either.
But it felt too fake, too simple to just blame outside forces, as if they were some plaintive case of star-crossed lovers.
But it wasn’t like that, because they weren’t lovers, because no matter how much Izaya’s heart ached for it, his feelings weren’t returned, and he was all alone talking to a head that couldn’t hear him, because no one cared his life was falling apart.
Not even him.
What if, indeed.
In the end, he could always dream.
“Do you think Shizuo could have love me?”
“The only things I regret, and the only things I'll ever regret are things I didn't do. In the end, that's what we mourn. The paths we didn't take. The people we didn't touch.” ―Scott Spencer, Endless Love
“I’m sorry” the moment those words left the doctor’s mouth, he had all of Izaya’s attention.
He didn’t expect to hear those words from his only friend, much less in the situation they were currently in. Shinra was bandaging Izaya’s arm after a violent encounter with Shizuo, hardly something Shinra could be apologizing for.
“I think I’m not quite following you, Shinra, you’ll have to be a little more specific.”
“For ruining your life, and Shizuo’s. I was so sure you could have been friends, that was why I introduce you to each other in high school. Even after many years I still had some hope you would make up and be friends. No matter how many times Celty told me I was delusional, I was certain you were doing too big of a deal for it to be truly hate.” The doctor finished bandaging Izaya, and sat quietly for a moment. Even Izaya didn’t dare to interrupt. “I’ve started to realize I was wrong all along. You’re truly the worst thing that ever happened in the other’s life.”
And for the first time in all his life, Izaya was left speechless. How could he respond to that? The situation was too surreal, those words lacked of real meaning. He didn't know how was he supposed to react, so he did the only thing he could still do.
“Oh, come on, Shinra! Did you really though there could be anything but hate between that repulsive beast and I? Even though we are your best friends, it seems as if you didn't know us at all” Or as if you knew me too well, Izaya though. “But please, indulge my curiosity, why bring it up now? What could have made you feel some responsibility for Shizu-chan's monstrosity?”
“Vorona broke up with Shizuo” he stated, as if that explained anything in this situation.
Still, Izaya didn't try to stop the little smile coming from the warm feeling creeping in his chest.
“I still fail to see how any of that had anything to do with me. Contrary to the popular believe, I'm not culprit of everything that goes wrong is his life. Much less his...romantic involvements. Maybe the girl just saw reason.”
“I'm conscious that you aren't to blame about everything that goes wrong, but this particular incident is, in fact, partially your fault. After all, she told him she was breaking up with him because it was ridiculous of him to try and have a relationship when he prioritized you over everything and everyone. From what Celty told me, he had ditched her in multiple occasions for chasing you around.”
“I didn't ask him to chase me, it was completely his—” he tried to defend himself, but Shinra ignored him and kept talking.
“You know the best part? What he was angrier about wasn't Vorona leaving him, I'm quite sure he just saw her like a friend anyway, but that he kept allowing you to ruin his life, even when it wasn't your doing. He's been so obsessed with you since high school he can't even have other relationships for how much he hates you. Hate is a pretty fucked up feeling for you to let it rule your life, if you ask me. But I imagine you know that better than me, after all.”
Love is also pretty fucked up for people like us, he wanted to add, knowing the doctor was another perfect example of it, but he didn't.
“Well, that explains why was him so angry with me today, even though we hadn't seen each other in months. But why are you telling all this, Shinra? I don't think you actually believe this knowledge will push me to stop hating him as much as I do. Then, why go all the trouble? And why apologize for introducing us when I asked you to do it first?”
“I recognized that look in your eyes the moment you arrived. I've seen it plenty of times, but I never expected to see it in you. That was the look of someone who is ready to die.”
The stayed quite for a few minutes. Now all the cards were on the table, there was no use in trying to deny it anymore.
“And why can't it be the look of someone ready to kill?” Izaya wondered out loud, more for him than for his friend, but he got an answer anyway.
“When it comes to both of you, I think it's the same. I'll assume there's nothing I can do to persuade you, right?”
Izaya departed the apartment without saying goodbye, and Shinra didn't try to stop him.
It wasn't his fault, Shinra reminded himself. But Celty would be so angry with the result of this madness, be it her best friend either getting killed or becoming a murderer.
And in the loneliness of his home, he admitted he was even sadder for himself.
He was about to lose his two best friends.
One would die.
And he wouldn't be able to face the other ever again.
“Just 'cuz you get to the end doesn’t mean you know what happened.” ― Karen Tei Yamashita, Tropic of Orange
“Goodbye, Izaya” and Shizuo hang up the phone, leaving no room for an answer.
It was very anti-climatic. Boring. It wasn't how he expected his last phone-call with his mortal enemy to go. It was too... empty, no feeling behind. It didn't feel real, more as if it was forced. Something they had to do even if none of them knew why.
That, Izaya though, is a pretty accurate description of our entire relationship.
“Do it, you monster” spat Izaya. Most of his body was already numb, but he refused to let his voice tremble. Until his lasts moments he would remain composed, he wouldn't give Shizuo the satisfaction of seeing him weak. And if that only helped infuriate the beast further, then it was even better.
He wasn't naïve enough to think he actually had a chance to kill his enemy, he wasn't able to hold his knife anymore. This was his end, and Shinra had been right, he was ready to die.
Because in this moment he was the only thing in Shizuo's mind, he completely owned the monster. Every breath he took, every beat his heart made, everything was Izaya's. He had never fully appreciated his possessiveness over the other until now.
And he was satisfied, because he knew that even when he was long gone, Shizuo wouldn't forget him. Izaya would be engraved in all Shizuo's skin and life. This was the ultimate technique to claim ownership over his enemy.
He would made him a monster only for him.
“SHUT THE FUCK UP, I'M GONNA KILL YOU, SON OF A BITCH” screamed the so-called Monster of Ikebukuro.
And Izaya didn't know if it was for the adrenaline or a possible concussion, but even in this situation he could appreciate the power of his opponent. He had just a scratch, even though he had move and throw things no human should be able to, but he did. And that display of power, of rough strength, of savagery. This had to be the epitome of all the beauty in the blond. Beauty all humans failed to appreciate except for him, and maybe he was the fool, he was about to die because of this.
Shizuo grabbed Izaya by the collar of his shirt and threw him across the room they were in. They were the only ones in the building, the offices empty for it was no longer work hours.
Izaya crashed against the wall and fall to the floor. But the moment he tried to sit, he felt it.
He couldn't see what, but something had stabbed him in his lower back. He couldn't really feel the pain, his body full of adrenaline, but he knew that was worse. The faster his heart was beating, the faster he would bleed out. He tried to think of everything he had read about exsanguination. He couldn't see how much he was bleeding, but he doubted he had more than a few minutes before losing consciousness, and just a little longer before he died. But it wouldn't take that long, he knew Shizuo was ready to give the coup de grâce.
He tried to convince himself he had to be calm about that, this was his plan all along, this was exactly what he wanted. But he was afraid of dead, just as every other human, and he felt overwhelmed by all these feelings.
Over all, he was starting to fear Shizuo would forget about him anyway, and all this would have been in vain.
But the blond was oblivious to everything happening in Izaya's mind. He was ready to give the final blow, to end the other life for one and for all.
But then he saw it. It was for only a second, but shocking enough to make all rage in him to stop. There, in the flea's eyes he saw what he had never seen before in there.
The flea was sitting against the wall, in obvious pain, even if he tried to dissimulate it. He was shaking a little, and didn't even tried to run. He probably couldn’t. And it was wrong, because he seemed fragile, and Izaya Orihara wasn't supposed to seem vulnerable.
But above all, he was sure that, even if for a second, he caught a glimpse of the last thing he expected to see. Fear.
And that was wrong, because fear was a feeling for humans, not for monster like them—
But Izaya was human. A normal human, for the matter, not like Shizuo.
Shizuo, who was the real monster. Who had been seconds away of killing him.
He fell to his knees in front of Izaya, his face hiding behind his hands.
“Why the fuck did you have to do this, Izaya?! Why couldn't you just leave me the fuck alone?! Do you want me to kill you that badly?! If your life is shit, you shouldn't drag other people to take part in ending it, fucking asshole.”
He's not going to kill me...? That was the only thing in Izaya's mind for a moment. But then he remembered, he was already dying of blood loss. Well, at least he would amuse himself with Shizuo before closing his eyes forever.
“You're an idiot, Shizu-chan, you can't do anything right. You are just a blow away from killing me and you stop. You're really useless... just as expected from a monster. I guess I understand why Kasuka is so careful with hiding his real name, his career would end if people knew who he was related to...” he stopped talking when a mand caught his throat, depriving him from the oxygen he so hardly was getting.
“FOR ONCE IN YOUR FUCKING LIFE TELL ME THE FUCKING TRUTH.” It was more like roaring than screaming, but Izaya didn't have the coherency to make a joke about that anymore. “Why, Izaya? Why do you want me to hate you that badly? Why do you want to ruin my life at the expense of yours?!”
He took his hand off Izaya's throat, but didn't stood back. There were barely centimeters apart. It had to be one of the closest they had ever been. Izaya could lose himself in those amber eyes, had he not been in the situation he was. And even with all the warm emanating from Shizuo' body, Izaya felt colder he had ever felt in his life. Also a symptom of blood loss, he remembered.
Izaya decided that there was no use in keep lying. He wouldn't live to face the consequences of this anyway. Had he been more awake, he would completely blame that decision in the dizziness of his head, but he wasn't. And all the strength left in him was concentrating in his next words, his last words.
He didn't bother in keeping a bay his tears.
“This is all your fault, Shizuo. I hate you so much that I don't care what happens to me anymore if that means you'll be miserable.” His voice was shaking, but he refused to go without telling him, that beast had to knew it was his fault. “You rejected me even before I could say a word to you. You kept repeating me how much you hated me, how much you wanted me to die. And then you tried to have a fucking girlfriend when you were supposed to only think about me...”
Izaya was unable to keep his seating position and fell to his side on the floor, his tears running down his face in a way they had never done. Only in that moment Shizuo noticed the hemorrhage in the back of Izaya. At first, he was definitely in shock, probably trying to understand how could Izaya could even speak in those conditions.
A little hypocrite for someone who got shot twice and the walked as if it was just a bruise to Shinra's place.
He was taking his phone out of his pocket, Izaya supposed to call Celty, but it would be in vain. Instead, he extended his hand to grab Shizuo's clothes in an attempt to avoid him leaving. He knew the grab had not an ounce of force, but it petrified Shizuo in his place anyway.
“Don't bother, Shizu-chan, I'm almost dead anyway. You killed me.”
The man probably answered something, but he couldn't concentrate enough to process the words. His eyes were now closed, so he wouldn't be able see the face of his murderer when he told him his very best secret. Such a tragedy, Izaya was sure Shizuo would make an expression disserving of remember, a mix between confusion, disgust and fear. Fear because the words he always wanted to hear came of his most hated enemy.
And fear because he had finally done it. He had killed the only person who had ever, truly, loved him.
“My love for you killed me, Shizu-chan.” His words were hardly more than a whisper, but he had confidence he had got his message across.
And if he hadn't, well, there was nothing left to do.
Such a proper ending, thought Izaya before losing consciousness for the last time, for something that never came close to be a love story.
The perfect end for a coward like him. Confessing when he was going to the only place Shizuo wouldn't chase him after.