"Shizu-chan! Shizu-chaaaan!"

"What is it?"

"I learned a new song! It's called Ode to Joy and it's by Beethoven!"

"Beeth….?"

"Beethoven, Shizu-chan! You know, the famous composer and pianist!"

"Really? That's great, Izaya. How many songs have you learnt already?"

"I don't know, but I can't count with both hands! And Shizu-chan, it's Iza-chan, remember?!"

"….Uh Iza-c-chan….?"

"That's right! Eh Shizu-chan why is your face so red?"

"N-Nothing…!"

"Eh? Strange Shizu-chan…anyway how is Shizu-chan's progress?"

"It's nothing much…"

"Ah….is that so, hey Shizu-chan do you want to hear me play?"

"Uh, I have to finish this piece…."

"Please?"

"…I guess it can't be helped."

"Yay! Come, come Shizu-chan! Maybe Shizu-chan can learn Ode to Joy too, there's also a violin version! Then we can do a duet!"

"…..No! That's embarrassing."

The brown haired boy pushed the other boy away, a blush covering his cheeks. Musical laughter filled the air and he turned to see the black haired boy smiling happily, his eyes sparkling.

"Shizu-chan's so cute~!"

"S-Shut up!"

The small black haired boy hopped over, tugging at the other boy's shirt sleeve.

"Hey Shizu-chan, do you like me?"

"Eh?"

"People don't like me," the raven haired boy said. "Even though I like them. Oh but I like Shizu-chan most, of course!" He beamed up at the other boy with bright red eyes.

"So, does Shizu-chan like me?"

"S-Stupid!" The brown haired boy said, but quickly corrected when he saw the hurt look in big red eyes. "D-Do you even have to ask? Of course I like you!"

"Really? Shizu-chan doesn't seem to like the other kids, but Shizu-chan likes me?"

"….Is that a problem?"

The black haired boy blinked at the serious look in the other boy's eyes. Then he wrapped his arms around the boy he called 'Shizu-chan', and smiled a smile memorable enough to be in someone's memory for ten years.

"Not at all, Shizu-chan."

...

...

"Shizuo-kun! Shizuoooo-kuuun!"

"What do you want, Shinra?"

"Why are you spacing out? Don't tell me, you're thinking of the girl you like?!"

"As if."

"….Eh? What's with that non-violent reaction? Is it really - !"

He darts out of the way before the dangerous hand could grab his neck and crush his windpipe, a nervous smile on his lips.

"I was just kidding, Shizuo!"

"Tch!"

Shizuo looks away, and Shinra creeps slowly, like a curious child towards a rainbow grasshopper he had found in the garden.

"Seriously though, what were you so mad about just now? You just stormed out of the classroom once class ended!"

"The fucking louse is in my class this year."

"Oh yeah that, but you don't have to get so mad! It's not like it's the first time he's taunted you. Just ignore him."

"How can I ignore him when he's always hopping around like a FUCKING FLEA?!"

People around jolt in fright at the sound of the blond teenager's roar, but Shinra merely winces and continues as if he hadn't been interrupted –

"Well I don't know, but Izaya thrives on attention. If you ignore him, he'll be more likely to grow bored of you…..anyway Shizuo were you telling the truth?"

"Huh?"

"You know, in your self introduction you said you play the violin."

"Oh that. Yeah I used to play it, long ago. I don't play it anymore."

"Woah….you totally don't look the type – wait how come I don't know about this?! I've been your only friend for years! Do you not trust me and our friendship, Shizuo?! Have all my efforts getting you to open your heart to me, your best friend, gone to waste?!"

"Tsk," Shizuo says as Shinra dramatically yells, and messes up his hair until he looks like the mad scientist he is, gaining weird looks that are nothing new to him. His brows are furrowed in annoyance, but there's something in his eyes Shinra doesn't recognize. "It was before I met you."

"….Ah I see, you must have been really young."

"Hm." Shizuo says, chin on his hand. He's not really listening to Shinra, but to words of the past.

...

A few hours earlier

...

"I'm Minami Keiko, I like swimming. I'm happy to meet you all. Please take care of me!"

"Matsumoto Yasu. Something about me huh…well, I like sleeping. I'm really lazy and I don't like homework at all. Please take care of me."

"Um, I'm Kimiko Hikari. I like many things, but I don't like sleeping, I feel quite restless. I mean no offence, Matsumoto-kun!"

"Haha no offence taken, Hikari-chan!"

"O-Okay….um, please take care of me!"

"Right. Next."

There's silence. Shizuo's staring out of the window in reality but staring into the past in his mind, only aware that it's the time for self-introductions but not really caring.

"-jima-kun! Heiwajima-kun!"

"….Huh?"

He says, and then notices the class has their eyes on him, though those eyes are full of wariness.

"It's your….turn."

Even the teacher seems hesitant, as if he believes Shizuo would throw the table at him for speaking to him. But he's used to it, so he stands up like the rest.

"My name is Heiwajima Shizuo, and I…."

He pauses, unsure on what to say. Something about himself. The first thing that comes to his mind is that he hates Orihara Izaya, but he doesn't want to waste his self-introduction on that louse. The second thing is that he hates violence, but he doesn't really want to talk about his infamous strength.

"Heiwajima-kun?"

"…I play the violin." A series of surprised looks. "Sorry. I mean, I played the violin. In the past. I'm not sure if that counts."

"…..That's interesting to know, Heiwajima-kun." The teacher says, unable to imagine Raijin High's most infamous delinquent handling a musical instrument. "Why did you stop?"

He blinks in surprise, not expecting a question of genuine curiosity. But then he shrugs, and says the truth.

"I didn't want to break it with my strength. I've broken a lot of things but that's the one thing I can't break. Because it's a memory of someone important to me."

And he sits down in the surprised silence that follows, feeling he has said too much but not really caring. Because saying the words makes it real, instead of like a dream as it often seems, and he's delving back into memories of the past, wishing he could see that important person again, wishing he had at least had the courage to say goodbye.

But he didn't, because he didn't want her to look at him with eyes of fear like everyone else, didn't want her to see him as the monster he was. At least, by leaving without a word of goodbye, hopefully, if she still remembered him, she would remember him as the shy boy he had been, and not the monster he had grown to be.

His nostalgic reminder of the past is shattered by two claps which shock him back to reality, followed by a voice that makes him want to fly across the room to punch its owner in the face.

"Heh…..Shizu-chan plays the violin huh? How surprising!"

Shizuo's fingernails leave what look like claw marks on his desk.

"Oh sorry, I meant, played. Since it's Shizu-chan who's such a monster after all, it's good that Shizu-chan finally shows some sense and knows such a monster like him shouldn't handle a delicate musical instrument! Not like me, who's a proficient pianist!"

Cracks appear in Shizuo's desk.

"- Or not. Eh music is boring, humans are more interesting! Oh why are you looking at me like that, Shizu-chan? You don't believe I play the piano? Haha! You have good instincts! I lied~ I'm surprised you didn't fall for it. I wanted to see how angry Shizu-chan would get when his most hated person shares a hobby with him! Hahahahaha!"

"YOU-!"

"H-Heiwajima-kun!"

"Maybe I should have said I also play the violin instead? Ahhh I really pity Shizu-chan's important person, when she sees what a monster you are, there's no way she'll like you back! Eh or has she already seen? Haha – HAHAHAHAHA – u-ugh –"

"DON'T YOU FUCKING DARE SPEAK ONE WORD FROM YOUR FILTHY MOUTH ABOUT HER!"

"Ha…haha….-uwah- is she that –important – argh…."

"Heiwajima-kun! That's enough!"

"AND STOP CALLING ME 'SHIZU-CHAN', THERE'S ONLY ONE PERSON WHO CAN CALL ME THAT, AND IT'S FUCKING NOT YOU!"

Shizuo slams Izaya's head so hard against his desk it creates a huge dent, and a familiar voice shouts, "Hey, Shizuo! That's enough! If you squeeze so hard he's really going to die!"

Indeed, Izaya's not smirking anymore, his eyes are glazed over and there's a look of restrained panic on his expression. Shizuo glares, gives one last warning squeeze which makes the flea choke and then turns and stomps back to his seat.

"O-Orihara-kun, are you alright?"

"Ah….hahaha….I'll survive, Sensei. Oh more importantly, can I have my desk replaced? There's a huge dent on it left by a monster and I can't write on this kind of uneven surface."

The teacher looks warily at Shizuo, but he's looking away, hazel eyes blazing with such a furious fire even he doesn't dare to meet his gaze. "I'll look into it…Orihara-kun."

"Thanks, Sensei! Oh what's with the silence in this room, lovely humans? Weren't you giving such lovely self-introductions? Well, I suppose it's my turn to return the favour!"

Shizuo clenches his fist, the scraping of Izaya's chair across the floor is like fingernails across his skull.

"I'm Orihara Izaya, and my name is an aptronym, as I'm sure you can see. The greatest thing about me is that I love humans! I love them all! There is no exception to my love for humans, oh except Shizu-chan of course. But it isn't really an exception, since Shizu-chan is a monster, not a human. That's why, I hate Shizu-chan."

The class waits as if expecting Izaya to say something more, but he doesn't, instead sitting down with a strange little wry smile on his face.

"Right…" the teacher says to break the deadly silence between the two most dangerous boys of Raijin High. He clears his throat, and attempts to bring back some semblance of normalcy.

"Kishitani-kun, it's your turn."

...

"You know, I kind of regret it."

"Eh?"

Shinra says, surprised to see Shizuo starting a topic on his own.

"About the past. That important person I talked about…I kind of regret not saying goodbye."

Shinra gives him a questioning look, and Shizuo continues. "Like I said, it was before I met you. Before I got this strength." He lowers his gaze to his hand, "I was just a normal boy, and I met this kid, this girl. At least I think she was a girl, because she was cute and really pretty. She had the most amazing eyes and beautiful smile…..anyway yeah. I met her when my mother signed me up for music lessons."

"Back then, even without my strength, I was a loner. I didn't speak much, and didn't see the point of interacting with other kids. I'm not that social anyway. It's kind of hazy since it's been so many years….but she approached me. She was an energetic kid compared to me, but she was kind. Even without my strength, I wasn't the popular kid or anything. So there was no reason for someone like her to approach me. But she did. We spent time together and became best friends. I liked her."

Shizuo pauses, inhales, then continues at a slower pace.

"I really….liked her. I thought of confessing sometimes, but I was too…..shy I guess. I could only say I liked her as a friend. And when I finally plucked up my courage, that incident happened. And then the rest of my time was filled by violence and trips to the hospital."

"I see…."

"Yeah. Whatever courage I had, faded away at my newfound violent strength. Of all people, I didn't want her to see me as a monster, I didn't want her to look at me in fear. I didn't dare to go see her, and I told my mother I was quitting the music lessons. I kept my violin and never touched it, and I've never seen her since that day."

Shizuo exhales a shaky breath, smiling wryly as he gives a dry laugh -

"Thinking of it…..I'm such a coward. But thinking of her…..makes me really miss her. If I could turn back time and tell her my feelings I would. Hell, if I ever had the good fortune to meet her one day, if she remembers me, I'd apologize for leaving her without a word, and confess like how I should have done so long ago. It doesn't matter if she hates me, I think I'd be satisfied with getting these feelings out of my heart. ….Haha….I really am selfish, aren't I?"

"Well love is selfish, after all."

"…..Love?"

Shizuo looks lost at the word, and Shinra smiles.

"Thinking so fondly of her…wanting to meet her again….hurting because you left her…..isn't that love?"

"Is it? I don't really know."

"That's fine. But I'm pretty sure you're in love." Shinra smiles in bemusement. His eyes glint. "So, what is this precious girl's name?"

"….I don't remember."

"You don't remember her name? Then how are you gonna find her?!"

"….Iza-chan." Shizuo concedes. "She called me Shizu-chan, and she asked me to call her Iza-chan."

"..Iza-chan?" Shinra smiles nervously. "Doesn't that sound like a certain someone –"

"No."

The single word chilled Shinra's bones. He raised his gaze, to see cold hazel eyes.

"Don't even think it. Her name isn't Izaya. I don't know what her name is but there's no fucking way her name can be the same as that damn louse's. And even if it was the same, it's an insult to compare her to that fucking leech. It's probably Izami or Izumi or something. You know, a girl's name."

"But what if it is….?"

Shinra dares to venture, and then shivers afterwards as the surroundings seem to drop to sub zero temperature.

"Then I'll kill the louse. So she'd be the only one with the name 'Izaya'. It disgusts me to think of that fucking flea sharing anything in common with her."

"Yeah fuck, if her name really is Izaya I will fucking murder that louse! Not only does he dare to call me what she called me, now he dares to SHARE THE SAME NAME AS HER?! AND HE DARED TO EVEN INSINUATE THAT HE PLAYS THE PIANO LIKE HER?! I AM GOING TO KILL HIM! KILL KILL KILLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!"

"R-Right….." Shinra puts up his shaking hands as there are suddenly no people in their vicinity. "So….her name is Izaya? What if Izaya is her?"

"What did you say?"

"W-Well it's a possibility-uguuugugug!"

"SORRY SHINRA, WHAT DID YOU SAY?"

"G—UUUHH I didn't say anything! Aha-hahaha…."

Shinra coughs and holds his throat protectively when Shizuo releases him, inching away from the volatile blond.

"Right, I won't say anything more about the woman – wait, she isn't a woman since you two were kids, I mean, girl who captured your heart being related to Izaya. Because I'm sure she's not related to Izaya at all. Hahahaha. It must just be a coincidence, right?"

"Tch. Coincidence." Shizuo scoffs, not liking the word the flea used often. He stands up, and Shinra looks at him curiously.

"First off, she's a girl - well even if my memory is fucked up and she was actually a boy with feminine looks, she was kind, unlike that filthy flea. She approached me, a loner, and she had kindness in her eyes which the flea obviously lacks. Second, she wasn't prideful like that fucking flea, she was modest even though her piano playing was good. And third -"

Shizuo slams his fist onto the table, just as Shinra shifts away, as if he had predicted the action.

"- She was honest. And the day the flea is honest is the day fate gives me another fucked up thing besides my strength and makes Orihara Izaya her - which is like 0.00000000000000001%. In other words, fucking impossible."

Shizuo inhales deeply, puts his fist by his side, then speaks in a more controlled tone.

"I'm off to the restroom. Talking about the flea puts me in a bad mood."

"Sure. Break's ending soon though. Do you want me to wait for you?"

"Nah it's fine, go ahead."

Shizuo says simply, then walks away. Shinra waited until he was gone, then called out.

"How long are you going to keep on hiding?"

"...You caught me."

Izaya admits, coming up from behind the wall.

"And here I was just planning to be a fly on the wall."

"Flea or fly?" Shinra wonders aloud.

"So Izaya, is that girl you?"

"What girl?"

"Shizuo's girl. You play the piano, don't you?"

Izaya is silent for a while, and Shinra says, "Is that why you asked me if his name really is Shizuo last time?"

"I don't know what you're talking about." Izaya says with a smooth smile. "I play the piano yes, but I don't remember ever attending music lessons. I came to eavesdrop because I knew you would bug Shizu-chan about it, and I wanted to see what kind of poor girl has to deal with Shizu-chan's monstrous affections."

"Really."

Izaya looks away from Shinra's dissecting gaze. "I don't remember the past."

"But the past is lonely." Shinra leans back, staring disinterestedly into empty air, "The past is lonely, that's why it'll catch up to you. Isn't that what you said? The past and memories are lonely things –"

"Shinra."

"I'm merely planning ahead." Shinra says without missing a beat at Izaya's sharp glance. "You see, if you and Shizuo both remember, maybe you two will finally get along –"

"That beast and I will never get along." Izaya says. "He doesn't listen to reason, and I can't listen to someone who doesn't listen to reason."

Shinra just looks at him, as if he has x-ray vision and can see Izaya's heart pounding hard in his rib cage.

"….That Shizuo," Izaya finally says, "Had brown hair. He was a shy kid, and he would blush when I called him Shizu-chan. He treated his musical instrument very carefully, and when I told him I had learnt many songs, he wasn't jealous like the other kids, he was happy for me. I pretended to be happy I had learnt a song I had already learnt so I could get him to watch me play but even if he knew my repertoire of songs was much more than what I said it was, I don't think he would have minded. Because he called me amazing."

"What a coincidence," Shinra says, "Shizuo said he was a shy kid who didn't dare to confess to you."

"Confess to the girl you mean." Izaya says.

"On the off chance that that girl Shizu-chan likes has the same name as me, in which case I would question the sanity of her parents, it's a coincidence because I'm not her. I'm not a girl. And he's not him. He would never be such a beast, he listened to reason, and he never hit me."

"People change." Shinra comments.

"I've never changed." Izaya says. He smiles softly, a fond look in his eyes Shinra never thought he would ever see.

"I've never changed, I just showed him a different side of me."

And then he turns and walks away, raising a casual hand as he does.

"Oh by the way, my Shizu-chan, and not that beast, never called me Iza-chan. He always called me Izaya. Honestly, it disgusts me to think that that monster could ever be my precious Shizu-chan. Even though I'll never see him again, I'd like Heiwajima Shizuo to not taint my memory of my Shizu-chan."

"I see," Shinra leans his cheek on his hand with a wry smile. "Then why do you call him Shizu-chan?"

But Izaya is already gone, and Shinra's words are left to empty air. But Shinra just smiles as if he had expected it. He places his palms on the table and pushes himself up from his seat, shaking his head and speaking as if to his own love –

"Ahhh Celty….it's so troublesome to be the friend of those two."