Somewhere on Kawagoe Highway, Shinra's apartment
[Really, it's been such a rough day…]
As soon as Celty typed these words onto her computer screen, the warm voice of Kishitani Shinra - her roommate - resounded throughout the room.
"Are you alright, Celty!? Your grief is my grief! It's what they call 'If the wife says move, the mountain will move'! Everyone in my family should listen to the lady of the house! Technically we're not married yet, but when my wife-to-be sighs in sadness, my heart feels broken in a thousand pieces, too! But Celty, you…cough……"
Halfway through delivering his usual spiel in a weaker-than-usual voice, Shinra somehow had to stop. As soon as she heard this, Celty rushed in the direction of his voice.
"Ah, I'm sorry, Celty. I'm fine. Guess a bit of phlegm got into my trachea…"
[I see…thank God. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that when what you're going through is so much worse……]
Celty was looking at Shinra's bedridden figure under the blanket.
Shinra had been attacked by a violent man who broke several of his bones and left considerable damage on his organs. He lay in bed for a week at Nebula's medical research center. After he had stabilized, they decided that he would go home to recuperate.
Shinra would have had to stay in the hospital for weeks had not his underground medical practice blessed him with at least some necessary equipments in his own apartment. Recuperating at home became the natural choice since it would have been hard to explain his situation to the doctors anyway.
He was now able to talk like usual, but Celty had to help him with everything else. His stepmother Emilia would sometimes come to lend a hand as well.
In the beginning Celty had to lift Shinra up with her shadow and take him to the bathroom since she didn't know how to use a urine bottle. The rice porridge she tried to make ended up looking like fried pancakes. Things like these made her feel stressed out - but as Shinra got better, Celty's life was gradually going back to normal again.
However, her heart was not as calm.
[I'm going to work your share for you, Shinra!] - after she said these words Celty seized every opportunity she could find to work as a courier when she didn't have to be taking care of Shinra. But that was only her excuse for going out.
Her real purpose is to find out as much as she could about the man who attacked Shinra. Her fury towards the one who hurt her love became her motivation.
Shinra had probably guessed her thoughts. He seemed to be trying to persuade her against it by letting her see that he was indeed getting better.
"But you need to be more careful than ever nowadays, Celty. The traffic cops are harder on you than usual."
[I'm really sorry.]
"Here's nothing to apologize to me about, Celty! If anything, it is I who need to apologize to you for not being able to move my body or hold you tight in my arms!"
In fact, in the beginning Shinra had tried so many times to lift himself from the bed and embrace Celty that his body made grinding noises and gave him excruciating pain. He only stopped after Celty had said [If you keep doing this to yourself, I'm-I'm going to leave this home!]
A small table had been installed over Shinra's bed so that he could use a laptop while lying face up. As he saw what Celty had typed, he continued to smile happily.
"Still, it's so great that you got home safe and sound, Celty. To me it's the best medicine of all."
"It's been such a joy to listen to you tell me about what's been happening outside that my pain has been almost gone in the past two or three days. You told me that there had been a fake Shizuo-kun*, that you met a girl who could do Pyrokinesis, and everything else from the most ordinary to the most extraordinary. You brought the world to my bedside, Celty. I'm an underground doctor, so it wouldn't be very convincing for me to say 'Illness arises from the sickness of the spirit'…but Celty, you really are the best cure for me."
* "Fake Shizuo": the details of this incident can be found in Dufufufu!!, the Durarara!! Dengeki April Fool story for 2010. (A translation is planned and will be available at this site.)
Celty was both overwhelmingly grateful and overwhelmingly sad to hear Shinra's words.
If it weren't for the new analgesic still under development by Nebula, Shinra's injuries would have prohibited him from smiling and talking to her like this. Though his pain was greatly alleviated, his recovery still required time.
When is he going to be completely recovered? In 1 month? 3 months? Half a year? - Are there going to be any aftereffects? Since she did not know anything about medicine, Celty had no idea.
- What have I been doing, really…?
Had she known what was going to happen, she could have chosen to become Shinra's aide instead of a courier. Wouldn't she have been able to help Shinra more that way?
These thoughts filled her chest.
Every time Shinra tried to cheer her up with nice words, a new sense of guilt would assault her.
But it was not Shinra's intention to make her feel responsible in any way.
Perhaps having sensed her guilt, he steered the conversation in a slightly different direction to convince her that she should not feel responsible.
"Maybe it was some sort of divine retribution."
[Divine retribution? …What are you talking about? I-I know underground doctors are illegal, but that kind of punishment only happens when you're arrested and sentenced to jail - and it's not like you've hurt people or anything, Shinra…well, you've done bad things, like doing that plastic surgery on Mika-chan…but…but…anyway, if you're going to hand yourself over to the police, Shinra, I'm going to hand myself in to that White Motorbike too! We'll be together even if it's in jail!]
"…They house men and women separately at the jail, Celty."
Celty looked flustered, but Shinra only smiled softly as he continued:
"When I said divine retribution, I was thinking about what I did to Izaya."
"I was rather rude to him on the phone when he called me after he got stabbed and sent to the hospital, remember? My friend had been stabbed, yet I wasn't even worried about him. That's probably why the heavens decided to punish me."
[No…Izaya deserved it! He walks around wearing other people's hate for him as if it were his own clothes! ]
Shinra smiled at Celty's somewhat strange rhetoric as he turned to look at the ceiling.
"Well, that's true indeed. It's quite unlikely that Izaya expects himself to be able to die a peaceful death on his tatami anyway."
"But still, he's one of my only friends in this world…"
[…I think it's more problematic to be friends with him in the first place…]
As she typed, she remembered that even though she was a monster without a head, the person lying in bed in front of her had told her that he loved her. Her chest rose and fell as if sighing heavily.
[Speaking of which, you've known Izaya since middle school, right?]
[I don't know much about how he was like back in middle school…has he always been like that?]
"Ah, I can't really say for sure. Back in middle school Izaya was the type of person who kept himself mostly to himself. I doubt that he has anyone to reveal his true feelings to even now, though."
Shinra's expression turned serious as he remembered the past of his friend whom he had known for 10 years.
"I was probably the one who talked to him the most…
- If there's anyone who knows Izaya's past better than I do, it would probably have to be his family."
Close to Rakuei Gym, Ikebukuro
A bright voice was shouting these dangerous words.
As soon as he heard this voice calling from behind his back, Izaya felt a sharp high kick coming for the nape of his neck.
He dodged the attack by the breadth of a hair. Wiping the usual grin off his face, he sighed and said:
"Telling a member of your own family to 'Die'…how sad. Since when have you fallen victim to the modern disease of apathy, Mairu?"
"Talking like you aren't that very disease yourself! And you shouldn't have moved!"
Izaya saw a pouting girl with pigtails wearing a black karate uniform. Seconds later, the other girl appeared as well in her casual clothes.
"…Brother (Nii-san), fine (are you alright)…?"
"Yeah, though my own sister did just try to break my cervical spine."
At Izaya's words, Orihara Mairu - the girl wearing glasses and a karate uniform - swelled her cheeks in annoyance.
"What was I supposed to do? Shizuo-san told us that he would introduce Yuuhei-san to us if you threw yourself in front of a dump truck laughing, Iza-nii! I thought I had a shot at making it look like exactly that!"
"I admit I'm deeply shocked. I don't think anyone has ever killed their own brother to meet an idol on human history."
"Who said you had to be killed? Shizuo-san won't get killed even if he's run over by a truck!"
"Thank you, but I'd rather not be compared to that talking Iron Golem*. No, actually, Iron Golem would be too much of a compliment. Anyway, get back on the sidewalk, or a car will hit you before a truck does."
* Iron Golem: a monster that has appeared in various games including Wizardry, the Final Fantasy series and Dungeons & Dragons. Though they share common traits (giants made of steel, formidable monsters, etc.) in all these renditions, Izaya is probably referring to the ones in Wizardry.
As soon as the name "Shizuo" was mentioned, Izaya's eyes narrowed visibly and his distaste grew. He began to led his sisters back onto the sidewalk.
- How thoughtless of me.
- I should have expected to see Mairu the moment I knew this was Rakuei Gym.
Izaya laughed hollowly at himself in his heart. His two sisters stared at him.
"It's not our fault! We just came out to say bye to Akane-chan, and out of nowhere you stepped out of an Awakusu-kai car, Iza-nii! We got all excited because we thought they were finally going to bury you alive in a mountain somewhere!"
Mairu's protests continued as Orihara Kururi - the girl in the casual clothes - averted her gaze and muttered:
"…Also (And you)…passed (didn't even notice)…sister (us)…"
"It's not like you two don't ever do stuff behind my back. How much did Namie-san pay you*? It's never a good thing when kids have too much money on their hands."
* In Vol.7, Namie pays the twins a large amount to spy on Mika and Seiji.
"As if you're the one to tell us off, Iza-nii! We know you ran baseball gambling rings for the money in middle school! Da!"
Mairu stuck out her tongue as she shot back like an elementary school kid. Hiding herself behind Mairu, Kururi stuck out her tongue timidly as well. As he saw his two sisters behaving like little animals, Izaya sighed again.
"Seriously, I wonder whose influence made you two so twisted. Well, granted, you're interesting objects to observe if I don't think of you as my family…"
Izaya kept muttering, but -
He sensed that something was wrong in the next second.
Mairu and Kururi turned their eyes toward someone behind him, their mouths opening as if about to say "Ah!".
His experience made him spin on his heels.
Not only did he spin on his heels - he moved his center of gravity at the same time to prepare himself for speedy retreat.
It proved to be the right call.
Before his eyes could see anything, a powerful flow of air blew the hairs on Izaya's skin backwards.
It was a roundhouse kick meant to be delivered to the opponent's face.
Before his calculations could catch up, his instinct had informed him of the true nature of this attack.
What was more, the kick was several times as deadly as the one Mairu had attempted minutes ago.
Like a clockwork doll he arched his back in front of the one who kept delivering kicks at him - and felt his opponent's shoe graze the tip of his nose. A good portion of his face felt numb immediately, but he had to keep moving.
Izaya chose to escape by flipping himself to the ground. He let himself fall onto his side and began to roll on the asphalt like a gymnast.
The next second, side kicks fell like rain on the asphalt following Izaya as he rolled away. What was happening on the sidewalk looked like a Jackie Chan movie.
Several seconds later, Izaya rose to his feet after having reached a safe distance, his small knife in his hand. His eyes still looked guarded, but his mouth curled into a grin as he muttered:
"Thank goodness. From the look on my sisters' faces I thought it was Shizu-chan."
"I see. Is that all you want to say for your last words?"
The one who stood at a distance from Izaya was an unshaven man in a black karate uniform.
Mairu was quick to reveal the man's identity.
"Master! What brought you here?"
"Oh, step back, you two. I'm going to kick the shit out of your big brother. You don't want to see your familiy beaten to a pulp."
As he flexed his neck audibly, the man in the black karate uniform - Sharaku Eijirou, Mairu's master of fighting skills - took one step toward Izaya with a bored look on his face.
"If it's Iza-nii, we don't really care…"
"…Affirm (That's right)…"
"I was a fool to expect anything resembling family love from you two."
Izaya's face twitched slightly. His sisters continued:
"For you, Iza-nii, aren't Dad, Mom, Kuru-nee and I on the same level as any stranger? We're all just 'things to observe'. You said you treat every human being equally, yet you're asking to be treated differently just because we're your family? How strange!"
"…Sad (What a pathetic man)…"
"That's not something you say in a situation like this…oh goodness!"
Izaya had to dodge Eijirou's sharp kick before finishing the sentence.
It was the kind of kick an amateur would never have been able to dodge even if he stayed extremely focused. Izaya, however, managed to dodge it by the breadth of a hair. He began to try to talk to his opponent directly.
"I don't think it's honorable behavior for a professional martial artist like yourself to attack an amateur on an open road, Eijirou-san."
"You call yourself an amateur when you carry a knife on you at all times and managed to dodge my kick just now?"
Eijirou kept delivering kicks with barely-concealed killing intent, but his face did not give that impression at all. In fact, his tired eyes and bored expression suggested that this was a man who found almost everything in this world bothersome. He talked as if he could hardly be bothered to.
"Speaking of which, you've sure got some guts for walking past my doorstep like that after what you did to my dear sister."
"This is a public road. Everyone can walk on it. And I don't recall ever having made Mikage-chan second-hand*, if that's what you're talking about."
* Here Izaya uses the term 傷物 (literally "damaged goods", a slang term for a woman who has lost her virginity, esp. if it's against her own wish) that basically says he did not take advantage of Mikage sexually.
"I wasn't talking about whether you raped Mikage or not. You talked her into dropping out of school, bastard. Or did you already forget?"
Sharaku Eijirou was not Heiwajima Shizuo. Nevertheless, he was without doubt one of those people who were dangerous to mess around with.
- Also it will be the worst situation ever if Shizu-chan finds me here when things are getting out of hand.
Izaya planned his escape from the scene as he continued to talk to his opponent to distract him.
"If you want me to feel the same way you felt, shouldn't you be taking it out on my sisters instead of coming for me? Just talk them into doing whatever you like. You can have your way with them. That way I'll probably be so shocked that I might burst out."
Izaya chuckled as he said these outrageous words.
"How heartless, Iza-nii! You're selling your own sisters out! And what was that 'burst out' - you mean you'll burst out laughing!?"
"…Treacherous (You're the worst)…"
"Like you're the ones to talk when you told me to 'Die!' just so that you could meet some idol. Seriously."
Izaya smiled bitterly at his sisters' protests. Eijirou, on the other hand, remained unsmiling as his tired eyes focused on Izaya and narrowed further.
"Even if she's a sister of a scoundrel like you, there's no way I'm doing that to my important pupil."
"Were she like 5 years older with a much more mature body I would have given it a thought."
"As expected of Master! It took only 3 seconds for my opinion of you to go from best to worst!"
Eijirou ignored Mairu's cheers (?) and kept up his pace. Just as he was about to deliver an attack unique to the Rakuei School -
A roundhouse kick from a certain third party got him in the back of the head.
"What the - !?"
It seemed like the person had gone easy on him. Eijirou landed on the ground face down, but his consciousness was intact. As soon as he saw the person who had attacked him, he protested vigorously in slightly shocked voice.
"M-Mikage! What are you doing!? Don't tell me you're still not over that guy!?"
The boyish woman standing in front of him was sporting a crop.
With fury being brought to a slow boil in her otherwise calm and clear expression, the woman who had just been called Mikage said to her older brother Eijirou:
"Talking about whether I was raped or not in such a loud voice on an open road…Brother, are you the type of person who needs to die once before they can finally learn to be respectful and have some delicacy?"
"Wait a second! Wait! They say the only good people are the dead ones, but is it true that he didn't take advantage of you!? I demand that you at least verify that before I get taken in by hearsay!"
"Shut up, stupid Brother. On top of that you got yourself into a fight on an open road. Do you want the name of our gym forever tainted?"
"Didn't you just taint the very same name when you surprise-attacked me on an open road and sent me flying with a kick!?"
Eijirou protested while getting back onto his feet. Mikage, however, denied it flatly.
"A martial artist should be ready to fight at any given time of the day. Surprise attacks are nothing to complain about."
"You think you can justify anything by saying 'You should be ready at any given time of the day'!? What are you going to say next, that it's OK to fire a sniper rifle to kill your opponent since 'This is not just a match, it's real, haven't you heard? So of course firearms are allowed'!? Next thing we know the elementary school kid who sets fire to Master Traugott's* home while he's sleeping will be calling himself the next martial art champion! At any given time of the day my ass! And aren't we already off-topic!?"
* Traugott: Traugott Geissendörfer, a highly regarded martial artist in Naritaverse. He comes from the German island that is the setting of the Vamp! series. He teaches martial art throughout the world via a chain of gyms to which the Rakuei Gym belongs. In Vol.7 it is mentioned that Heiwajima Shizuo is a huge fan of Geissendörfer.
"That person can survive any fires and dodge any bullets, I think. But your sophistry doesn't explain why you were lame enough to have let me catch you off-guard. Neither does it explain why you felt it necessary to insult me with those words."
She stared at her own brother with a darkening aura that suggested she could lose her temper at any moment.
"Wait, Mikage! I just need you to clear up one thing for me!"
"…What is it?"
Seeing that her brother's face had turned serious, Mikage stopped in her tracks to listen to what he had to say.
"Is it true that you have zero experience with men?"
"Haven't you at least kissed someone?"
Mikage fell silent. Mairu and Kururi waited anxiously for her to answer.
But the next word to come out of Mikage's mouth had nothing to do with the questions.
"Did you just tell your own brother to die…uwah!?"
Eijirou managed to block Mikage's punch before it reached his Adam's apple, but Mikage's limbs were already delivering all sorts of attacks to the painful spots of his body.
"W-Wait, what is this, it's kind of like the non-stop version of the serial attacks, oh, wait, what is this!? Your new trick!? The something-Dance or something-Inferno? Is that it!? - ! - ! - ! - !"
Mikage simply didn't stop attacking, and Eijirou kept talking while protecting himself from the attacks.
It took a while for Kururi and Mairu, entranced by the almost theatrical performance as the sister fought her brother, to realize that they should be looking for their own brother -
When they looked around, however, Izaya was already nowhere to be found. Only curious passers-by were seen watching from a distance.
(TO BE CONTINUED IN PART II)