Summary: An event that changes the lives of various characters in Ikebukuro begins in another town, with a school trip.
Pairings: szmk + mssk + mkan? + srcr
Genre: Mystery / Angst
Story Type: Drama!AU
Setting: Masaomi is not with the gang and Mikado and Anri are on their last year of school.
Warning: Various kinds of angst. And randomness. Character death. Continued in Short 24, sorta.
At the moment the clock struck twelve midnight, Izaya was awoken by a loud yet muffled cry. He ran downstairs to see, in genuine shock, Celty’s head in tears. His shock turned into curiosity within seconds and he grinned. Wondering what could’ve caused such a drastic response from the head, he brought it out from the tube it was contained in. The cry, now uncovered, would surely wake the whole neighborhood. As he paced the room, Izaya decided to place it back in its container. There was no need to cause his neighbors, much less the police, to come knocking at such an hour.
As Izaya wondered, for nearly half an hour, whether to go back to sleep or not, a crash brought him back to his senses. Looking behind him, he saw Celty’s silhouette in a different outfit than normal. Of course, what he saw as normal wasn’t really for Celty. Now back to her pre-Japan outfit, she seemed much more intimidating. Especially since even her horse had followed her all the way into Izaya’s apartment.
“Well, this isn’t good. But what brings you here?” Izaya tried to remain calm as small droplets of sweat began to form on his skin. However, Celty never answered him and without making another sound, slashed him unconscious with her scythe. Izaya never had a chance to avoid it like he usually did with Shizuo’s attacks.
In Shinra’s case, he was woken up by the loud roar of Celty’s horse. The man didn’t even get a chance to find out what had happened until it was too late. However, if anyone were to ask how he even heard the horse in its original form, he’d reply with as much gusto as normal. “If it’s part of Celty then of course I’m going to hear it. Do you have something stuck in your ears?”
Yet, even he had to admit that the whole thing was odd. Even he felt intimidated by the air left in his apartment. It was cold and lonesome, as if it were the prelude to what was to come.
Shinra was called almost three hours later by Izaya to ask for Celty’s whereabouts and the underground doctor knew that this was something even an informant of Izaya’s caliber did not know. It was at that moment he knew something had happened. Even if Izaya didn’t seem all that bent out of shape at being struck unconscious by Celty, Shinra could tell something had happened; both to his childhood friend and, most importantly, to his lover.
If anyone in Ikebukuro heard the news first, it was Namie. Standing at the top of her apartment building, she cried out. “Seiji… Seiji…! Seiji! Seiji! Seiji! SEIJI!” And with that, Namie plummeted to the ground, becoming the last to hitch a ride in Celty’s carriage.
… … …
The whole day Masaomi was quiet, Saki noted; though she was aware of the reason why. Just around the corner, very near from where they were staying, his best friend was staying in a different hotel. And it wasn’t just him. The whole grade had gone on an excursion, specifically the very same town they were in. If not for the fact that Masaomi had seen them early in the morning, from afar, he might’ve accidentally stumbled upon his best friend in the crowds. And for that reason, Masaomi had forced himself to stay cooped up in his room. At the very least, until they all left. And he knew the trip wouldn’t last that long for them.
“I have to go out and get us something to eat.” Saki finally spoke that late afternoon when the school trip was scheduled to return. She had been hungry for some time now and figured Masaomi would be too. It wasn’t that she didn’t mind dying next to Masaomi due to starvation, but she simply didn’t want to see him die of starvation.
“Don’t let him see you. I know he doesn’t know your face but…” Masaomi spoke weakly, causing Saki to realize he was much weaker than she imagined. Like always, Saki first smiled to Masaomi and then she nodded.
The trip to the nearby convenience store wasn’t long but in her weakened state it took long enough for Saki to reach the store. Right next to it, one of the buses was stopped. It wasn’t that she hoped that bus wasn’t the one, but a sixth sense she developed told her it was. As calm as always, she entered the store. Almost a dozen students were shopping and there, recognizing them for a picture Masaomi had, she saw both teens.
“Seiji-san and I had the same tastes!” The couple next to the two were in their own little world as they picked food for the overnight trip. It was a long way for the students but since they didn’t have class the next day, most were planning on not getting any sleep.
“Okay people, you’re the last group and we’re leaving now so whatever you didn’t get, then you didn’t get!” A teacher spoke up from the entrance and Saki saw the students hurry in direction of the cash registers. As they ran past her, Saki gave them both a soft smile. They had been caught off guard but since they were being called, neither paid much attention to Saki.
Once she had the food in hand and it was paid for, Saki began her trek to the hotel. Saki wasn’t planning on saying anything to Masaomi about who she saw since it would needlessly worry Masaomi. Of course, fate had whole other message for her to relay the moment she fainted from the shock. The doctors later on had told Masaomi it had been partly caused by the anemia due to her being hungry. He couldn’t pay much attention though.
And in the span of the following hour, three phone calls had been made.
… … …
Aside from Namie, the second to be contacted was Kyohei. It had been during the middle of one of his commission works. He didn’t know the number yet still answered anyways. “Talk to me.” He spoke out of his usual tone of voice, simply because he was tired and busy. Erika and the others would be arriving soon with his meal in any case.
Out of shock, he nearly dropped the phone when the other spoke. There was a silent question for his absence over the phone and Kyohei quickly brought the piece back in place. “What does that mean?”
A small yet detailed explanation had been given and without giving much explanation to his contractor, Kyohei left the vicinity of his work. Erika and the others were pulled back into Saburou’s car in order to see the news. They made a dash towards the caller immediately.
It wasn’t the third call but he had expected one since the afternoon. The fact that he hadn’t meant that something was wrong. Sure, he thought the caller was busy having fun and he didn’t mind that but it was the fact that no call had been made that bothered him. He was worried. Very worried in fact.
So it was obvious that he didn’t know anything. Not about Celty. Not about the call. And certainly not about the truth.
“Shizuo-san…” He might’ve been the last to be seen, but Shizuo was the most important one to him.
“Sempai comes back next morning. I’m so bored.” Aoba whined to his followers and colleagues who laughed at him in response. “Ah, I know! You guys, fight amongst yourselves like some sort of gladiators!” A unison of sighs were heard and Aoba pouted.
“You shouldn’t bother the others so much, Aoba-kun.” He heard the chuckle and Aoba turned around with a grin on his face.
“Sempai!” Aoba tried to tackle the other but fell to the ground since his sempai avoided him.
“Sorry Aoba-kun, I just came here to let you know my real thoughts.” His smile was bright like always but it felt like there was something wrong. Aoba realized it first, though he was the second to be seen. He was that important and that observant.
“What real thoughts?” Aoba was confused as he tilted his head to look cutesy. The rest of his gang hid their smirks at that. Watching Aoba go gaga for his sempai was always entertaining.
“I was hoping, all this time, to reform you. Not to make you like me, but change you in a way that you’d be able to like others.” The explanation seemed awkward and weird, so much that no one could make sense of it. But one thing was certain. This person has given up. But what? “Well, another time I guess. If I get a second chance.”
“What does that mean?” Aoba tried to get closer, but he couldn’t move. None of them could.
With a smile, he turned around. “I have to go see him now.” Aoba would only learn the truth later on during the night.
“Izaya-san, you’re there right?” This happened right before the last call, yet Izaya was the first to be visited. At the moment, Izaya was going over some documents since Namie had taken the weekend off due to her small depression. Izaya didn’t mind since he could keep himself entertained.
“Now this is odd. Don’t you get back like much later? That’s why your return trip is overnight and you don’t have class tomorrow.” Izaya chuckled as he got up to greet the guest behind the door.
“I hate you Izaya-san. Always have and always will. Honestly, I hope I don’t ever get to see someone like you again. And…” The voice turned into a murmur and Izaya had to stop himself from saying anything at the moment. He hadn’t realized what he felt but he recognized that feeling like when he had lucid dreams of the future. “Anyways, I hate you. I know you won’t ever change your ways.”
“Is this all you want to say?” Izaya managed to ask, not being able to show his grin to the other.
“I do wish for a favor though. Even if you won’t fulfill it.” The next words surprised Izaya. “Don’t bother Shizuo-san about this from now on.” With those words, Izaya ran to the door and found no one there. He actually stopped to wonder if he had been dreaming. A call brought him to his senses.
“Yes, who is this?” He asked like normal and was so shocked at the later conversation, he dropped the phone on the ground. Yet he only realized it after Aoba and enjoyed it anyway.
… … …
The blaze was strong. There were screams in the air that jerked her awake. She was in between the here and there that even she knew something had gone wrong. Was still wrong. And would remain wrong.
At first she noticed the two holding hands. They were in love, both alive and now dead. Even now she never understood it. Would never understand it. But then fear gripped her. She remembered something. Something that was much more important than her fear, her pain, her life. Where? Where is he? Her thoughts wandered, unable to speak anymore.
After all, he had been walking in with the rest. There was something he had forgotten and was discussing it with the teacher. But it seemed as though the teacher was against it. Walking back to his seat, next to her, with a defeated look was the last thing she saw before it happened. So she tried to find him but she could no longer move.
The noises inside her became louder, almost engulfing her. However, only one thing kept them at bay. Her worry for him. As misplaced as it was, it would be the only thing that kept her alive. In its own very weird way.
The sirens were a wakeup call to him. His heart began to race for some reason and he immediately followed them to the fire. He was shocked by it even though he knew nothing at all. There was something in the back of his mind that screamed out for those inside.
“Get her to the hospital!” A voice caught his attention and he saw her first.
“Saki!” Masaomi ran to the girl but the paramedics were faster and they took her away. Unable to move, he heard a soft voice.
Firefighters pushed him aside as they tried to control the blaze. Masaomi could only stare in shock as smoke rose to the sky. He knew now, for some reason, he had just lost something very dear to him.
“What the hell?” The voices brought him back and he saw in the distance something odd between the damage. He was in shock as he realized what it was. Taking one step after another, Masaomi broke into a dash towards the firefighters. Officers tried to stop him but he avoided them all.
“Don’t touch that!” Masaomi screamed, not out of worry, but out of a feeling of possessiveness. It was the last link to the two of them. To what mattered to him. To what he always wanted to protect. And he could hear her. The whisper of a voice that remained there.
It would take Masaomi a whole month before he could respond normally again. And even then, there were times when he would revert back to the state at that moment.
If it could be compared to anything, it’d be a doll. Not a puppet that could be controlled, but a doll that was simply there staring at you. Saki was the first to realize this.
Kyohei and his gang arrived, even with Saburou’s speed, only after everything was over. They saw the scene in shock and were directed to the nearby hospital where Saki was being taken care of. The bill would later be taken care by them but their confusion at what awaited them there was obvious.
“I’m sorry you had to come all the way out here, Kadota-san.” Saki looked apologetic due to everything, even though it wasn’t her fault. By her side, next to the window, was Masaomi. He was silent as he stared out, in direction of what had happened.
“Did anyone say how it happened?” Kyohei was the first to ask while Erika and Walker tried to see if Masaomi would answer them. He and Saburou sat down on a pair of stools next to her bed.
“It seems like it was just someone with mental problems who didn’t like student excursions. At least, that what the detectives told me.” Saki explained to them with a worried smile. Every so often, she would glance towards Masaomi, knowing he would not answer her. “Izaya-san was contacted about an hour or so ago. I had to give them a guardian’s number.”
“Who cares about that? You weren’t hurt, right?” Kyohei asked worriedly, glancing at Masaomi as well.
“I wasn’t in the bus but the shock apparently caused me to faint. They’re giving me some nutrients in the meantime.” Saki explained with a soft smile. “I’m not sure what I can do for Masaomi now. But I just want to stay with him.”
“Are you coming back to Ikebukuro?” Kyohei asked curiously but mainly because he was worried about her. Saki’s face, however, showed that she wasn’t sure of that.
“You can stay with us if you want! Me and Yumacchi have some extra space in our loft!” Erika offered with a smile, moving away from the silent Masaomi. “How about it?”
“But I…” Saki looked down and then glanced at Masaomi, who took a few steps towards her and bent down to rest his head on her bed. Smiling towards him, she felt his hand caressing her’s as he looked up. For a single moment, Saki noticed something that would remain in the back of her mind as her own secret. She was the first to notice again. “Alright. As long as I can stay with Masaomi.”
… … …
“There’s a sense of liberation. I don’t know. It feels weird.” He explained with a smile on his face. There seemed to be no worries for him, despite the fact that he was currently held by a crying Shizuo. “I noticed Yagiri-kun and Harima-san die. I wasn’t able to verify if Sonohara-san died too. But it seems like Yagiri Namie-san killed herself just a while ago.”
“Who cares about them?!” Shizuo screamed, unable to hold his grief. His grip was tight yet the boy didn’t pay much attention to it. “Who cares about the others?!” The ex-bartender had noticed it instantly, despite not being the first to see the boy. He was behind on the news but he knew. And his anger was rising at the same rate as his grief.
“Don’t say that Shizuo-san. Sonohara-san was my friend. She’s still dear to me anyhow.” He scolded the larger man without hesitation or fear. It was for that reason Shizuo loved him. But now…
“I don’t care! You’re more important to me!” Shizuo declared the words he had so often told before. They were as true then as they were now. “How did this happen?”
“You can’t do anything to the perpetrator, Shizuo-san. It’s not like I know him but I don’t want anything to happen to you or for you to be responsible for anything bad.” The boy seemed angry as he tried to calm Shizuo’s rage. He tilted his head backwards and looked up at the blond. “Shizuo-san, I want to ask you a question.”
Though the tears fell from his face, Shizuo looked seriously at the younger male. “What is it?” He seemed a bit calmer, though his insides screamed.
“Will you be like this for the rest of your life? Sad like this?” It wasn’t that he would enjoy it. Not to say that he couldn’t feel the love if it were so. But to the younger male, this meant that the person he loved would never be happy again. From the beginning, he knew the answer to his question, even without Shizuo answering. “Even if it’s fake, I want Shizuo-san to be happy. Will you forget about me?”
“Hell no!” Shizuo was angry again as he brought his lips against the younger male. He felt nothing and that made him angrier. Yet tears were the first to fall again. “I won’t ever forget.”
“I always knew that. That’s what I feared.” He looked down with a saddened smile. “That’s why, I’m asking a very big favor from you Celty-san.” Both glanced upwards and backwards to the figure who had appeared behind them. She rode silently on a horse-drawn carriage with a pair of lovers in the back.
Shizuo had been surprised by her appearance. He had never seen her like that, nor had he ever heard her voice in that fashion. “As you wish, Mikado-kun.” She swooped down her scythe, hitting both males; one who was in shock and the other very calm.
… … …
“Mikado’s dead…right?” Those were Masaomi’s first words the following month. After moving in with Erika and Walker, he spent his days gazing out the windows. Shinra had inspected him and Izaya stopped by at one point but no one had anything to say about his condition. Saki continued to stay by his side the whole time.
So she was the first to touch him, giving him her most comforting smile. “That’s right. I’m so sorry, Masaomi.” There were probably many things they would need to talk about now but Saki wasn’t sure where to begin. She was only slightly worried about Masaomi due to that secret she held.
“Anri-chan isn’t dead though.” Those words caught Saki off guard. As she thought of what he meant, Erika walked in with an angry gaze.
“They found her body in the debris! Anri-chan’s dead!” Things that happened in real life had a certain tone which one must face them in, so Erika took this very serious. Even though she secretly wished that nothing had happened and that this was simply something like a dream, she knew this was the hard truth.
“I know you’ll enjoy this, Karisawa-san.” Masaomi began with a soft smile. “You see, when Anri-chan was dying, it seems her will began a battle with Saika. Their fight had me out of touch with the world so now that Anri won supremacy, I was able to resurface. Actually, Saika’s still around, she’s just like some broken record in the background.”
“Then Anri-chan’s now Saika?!” Erika instantly light up with happiness and ran towards the new Mother host of Saika. The woman began to rant on about powers and resurrection before Masaomi stopped her with a grin.
“I can take your questions later!” Immediately he turned serious. “How has Shizuo-san been handling this? Anri-chan’s been worried about that.”
Both girls turned worried, unsure of how to explain the situation. However, Saki took the first turn and slowly spoke of everything in the past month.
“You see, I’m also dying.” Celty confessed to Shinra through her newly recovered head. She was saddened by this fact, especially since it would cause her lover to live alone from a certain point onwards. “It wasn’t just that Saika caught me off guard. I was already weak to begin with from the long years. That’s why I’ve always been complacent with the role I had and where I lived.” Inside of her were the memories of many long years.
“Celty…” Shinra looked displeased and heartbroken with the sudden news. He seemed about ready to die with his beloved if necessary.
“But that doesn’t mean I will disappear into nothingness. I was allowed a second chance at life later on. Perhaps I’ll even get to see them too.” Celty explained with a smile. The very same smile she had lost so long ago. “And don’t worry. Even if I die, what I’ve affected won’t disappear with me.”
“I’m still not sure how I like this Celty.” Shinra frowned, recalling what his lover had done to his two best friends. “But I know Shizuo is better off this way. He’d have killed himself like Namie-san did.”
“It’s what I promised Mikado-kun. For both of them, he never existed from the beginning.” Celty hated herself for having done that but she owed that much to him. From the very beginning, she knew how Shizuo would react to this, and like he had predicted, Izaya would’ve bothered Shizuo with that knowledge. But, from the very start, she had tried to stop it. Her lost self had realized the danger to those who loved her and their companions so she had wanted to stop it from happening. She was too late. There was, possibly, nothing she could’ve done from the beginning.
“Only one thing worries me.” Shinra spoke softly, looking out the window. “Saika never resurfaced anywhere. It doesn’t seem like anyone found it. That would mean the children of Saika will run amok, right?” This was before Masaomi returned with Anri, so no one aside from Saki had known of its whereabouts.
“You’re right. It’s possible. But somehow, I don’t think so.” Celty was confident about her answer. She knew one thing that Shinra had yet to know. “I picked up their souls. Four, in fact. Anri-chan wasn’t among them. And I never felt her anywhere. I’m certain I know where she is.”
Catching her train of thought, Shinra was caught by surprise. He had just visited Masaomi the other day. Everything at that point made sense. But he remembered something much more important to him. “Will you still love me even during this second chance? Will I then be reflected in your eyes?”
“I know you will. Just like you finally are now.” Celty smiled at him and gazed to her lover, finally able to express all her love for him. The remaining time together would be spent pleasantly and lovingly.