Right Now, Nowhere

Sometimes Namie wondered what the hell she was doing here. No, sometimes wasn't the right word. Often was better. Like every time she gripped her key card; every time she paused in the middle of the day and stared out her window, imagining the comforting sight of the Yagiri Pharmaceuticals head office. Every time her employer slipped out the door with a "Be back after ten, maybe, don't miss me too much," and she imagined what it would be like to burn the place to the ground, just to show him. (Show him what? She didn't know. She had no idea about anything these days. It was all kind of surreal.) Maybe all the time was the best estimate.

Whatever happened to her shiny college degree, her years of training, the legions of assistants she had at her every beck and call? What happened to her pride? Since when did secretary become a feasible career path for the youngest vice president of one of the top companies in Japan? It certainly wasn't going to be a glowing point in her resume.

Admittedly, she didn't have much to complain about. She didn't have to suffer incompetence, because she did almost everything herself. It was quiet most of the time, except for the occasional guests and Izaya's sudden outbursts ("Namie, do you like watching fishing documentaries?" "Ever wondered what it would be like to jump into the path of an oncoming train?" "Hey, hey come here, you have to see this, this is really hilarious. He's forcing the kid to eat freaking natto –"). And despite all her doubts about Izaya's ability to hire her, she was being fairly compensated for shuffling papers around. The only problem was that she saw Seiji less, and Izaya more, and that was kind of a headache. Then again, she never saw Seiji without that idiot girl, and never saw that idiot girl without wanting to kill something. The Yagiri were prone to moments of extreme violence – her brother had proved that, and she didn't want to test her own capacity for it.

Of course, now the real Celty had its place of honor on Izaya's shelf, and she couldn't escape the blasted thing at work, either. She caught herself looking at it too often. What about it? Because it was foreign? Those pale cheeks? Long lashes? Seiji always cared about it way more than the rest of her kokeshi, or even the American dolls with big plastic busts that came in rainbow-colored packages. It was just a head, for god's sake. It didn't even talk. Never said, "I love you, Seiji," or "I will do anything for you, Seiji," or "It's okay, Seiji. Everything's going to be okay." Never held him. Never embraced him. It was utterly devoid of feeling. Probably felt like a dead fish, too. Cold and fleshy.

"Pretty, isn't it?" Izaya had caught her again. He always did, and she felt her shoulders jerk involuntarily as she turned back to the bookshelf and ignored him. She had always known he was a terrible person. Being in close proximity with him nearly every day had done little to remedy that impression. She had an eerie feeling that his eyes could skin her alive, peel her apart, if she relaxed even for a moment. Worse, his smug face made her want to do a crap job on purpose. Which was why, when he stepped out to buy an afternoon snack, she tried moving around the pieces on his board. Putting too much sugar in his coffee (four tablespoons). Looking through two folders marked private – case files on people she instantly deemed irrelevant (one was some kind of bonsai expert who lived in Osaka, and the other was a frequent pachinko-player, and by the time she had glanced at their pictures and skimmed two paragraphs of background information she realized she just couldn't be bothered to care).

Izaya didn't seem to mind. He came back, munching a chocolate chip scone, glanced at his board and said, "Interesting. But you're still wide open here," and banged down a chess piece, like whatever she'd done was totally valid. He settled behind his desk, took a sip of coffee and said, "Add another spoonful next time," and fixed the two folders she had obviously ransacked without batting an eyelash. "You can put this in the shredder pile tomorrow," he instructed her graciously, and cocked an eyebrow when she gave an exasperated sigh. She should have known. Of course he would like the chaos. Of course he wouldn't lose like that.

He kept looking at her. Maybe he wanted some other kind of reaction. "You know, Miss Yagiri, you're a woman of many charms." He moved to the front of his desk, rubbing his chin, while he watched her rearrange some books with restrained ferocity. "You're smart, you're pretty, you're fiercely protective of the people you care about. No, actually, it's person and not people, right? Because there's only one person you care about, and even you know how stupid that is."

She couldn't help it anymore. She turned to stare at him, hoping her expression conveyed enough of her loathing. He crossed his arms and continued, "Still, you'd be kind of perfect if you didn't lack so much confidence. It's kind of sickening. Even the way your face is telling me you don't want to hear it – I hate to break it to you, but that's not pride. It's anxiety. Because you don't want me to read you." He shrugged, smiling widely. "Sorry, but I already have."

Silence. She kept her fury in check as she crossed the room to face him square-on. He could play at being doctor if he wanted, but Namie refused to be cross-examined by this bastard, whose own psychology she had alone ago deemed extremely faulty. (She was the one with a medical certification, goddamit.) She didn't bother slapping him. He would like that, too. He would laugh and call her such a girl. Make her raise the white flag, as always. She had to do something he wouldn't expect – something to make him blink, think twice, realize who the hell he was dealing with. Even just this once. Just once.

So it somehow happened that she found herself pulling him into a kiss – grabbing, really – shocked her own sensibilities, knew it was the wrong move as soon as her brain registered it – couldn't do anything now, dragged it out, agonizingly slow, tasting the coffee he had just drunk, and all the sugar she had heaped into it. Pressed him right against his desk and didn't stop, wondered where he'd learned to do this, wondered what stupid instinct this was, and shuddered with terror when he looped his arms around her and pulled her in closer.

That was quite enough. She shoved him away from her, and his arms flew back to steady himself against his table. A few papers got caught in the movement and drifted to the floor.

She rubbed a hand over her mouth, resisting the urge to spit. Then she backed away another few paces, while Izaya wiped a thumb across his lips, eyes unreadable. Maybe, for that one moment at least, he'd been caught off guard. He'd wondered. It was a faint hope. He looked up and caught her – just as she caught herself – standing still, hardly breathing. But he hadn't muttered a witty comeback yet. Maybe that meant something. She crossed her arms and glared at him.

And he – broke into a laugh. Wild laughter. Leaned halfway over his desk, clutching his stomach. A stack of papers he had inadvertently pushed against scattered unceremoniously. She watched as he breathed heavily, composing himself just enough so that he could wheeze out, "Hey, now, don't look so pissed. You're getting there." Another laughing fit.

Namie eyed him disdainfully for a moment ("Hahaha stop looking, you're killing me, Miss Yagiri"). He wasn't going to stop anytime soon. She walked back to the shelf she had been clearing. This was not quite a victory, but not yet defeat, either. In the meantime, indifference would suffice.

A/N: Thanks for reading. Comments are greatly appreciated. :D