HIDE YOUR NECK
A shot for Masaomi Kida and Izaya Orihara
Masaomi Kida knew a lot first-hand. He knew to kiss the girls by the fountain in the park. He knew to avoid the tourist traps bouncing with Polaroid cameras and lip-peeling smiles. Maps were engraved in his head like a mouse maze; he had that cute cunning.
Most importantly, Kida knew that Ikebukuro, in its poison bright neon scales, was a nest of danger. He knew this as well as any over-protective mother, as wisely as any hound-dog cop, as clearly as any security camera. Yellow was for the sick kid he dragged home from drinking out behind skids and for the dirty-pissed on towels by the trashcans. It smelled like weed and meth. He could rub his sweatshirt sleeve on his nose, and then smile at the boys at his back. The numbers at his back. He threw his scarf over his shoulder and jumped into the street.
In Ikebukuro, if a necklace was worth anything, it would be yanked off—he had seen it happen to a girl's gold chain on the subway. And while the girl heaved in fear, clutching a ratty handbag, Kida, alone, kept his hood up and his hands in his pockets, wondering if he would relate this to Mikado.
The train came to a halt. The boy stepped over that cavity between the train and the station with lanky ease. How many old ladies had fallen in that darkness? His eyes caught the hooking gaze of beggars sitting on the ground with coffee cups and brown hats. If Mikado were here, he would have dropped his subway change into them, would have winked karma over his shoulder as the coins slide from his palms.
But the blond walked on past, enmeshed into the crowd, that mustard scarf so bright against the black coats that decorate the business district. On this side of town, the buildings rose black with yellow lights in the windows. The sunbeams barely made it through the smog. The sidewalk was wide. The street was wider. Gold paint embroidered each building's address. Masaomi rolled his eyes over the numbers the city's money funneled into. Numbers numbers, power in numbers. Real estate, banking, stocks. And his gang played monopoly with the squares surrounding the train stations. Pass go, collect the innards of a mail box.
Kida finally turned into the parking garage. He walked up the ramps. It was a lazy hour. The ramp was empty. Up he climbed the cement pathway, the world as cold inside this high-rise as in any basement. Eight levels up, he climbed. Broken green glass reflected the red exit sign underneath the door out to the roof.
Masaomi Kida valued information, he valued his mouse maze mind. Information, it got him out of a lot of tight places. He had that in common with the informant, on a more subtle level. They both had holes in their eyes, Izaya's were just blacker. More lonely. So Kida opened the door into the wind and stepped onto the roof.
Izaya smiled and pushed the hair out of his eyes as if he never left this temple of cars. "I take it you have what I asked for."
"Yeah, I've got it."
Masaomi was silent. He liked the way it felt to be a bug under a rock, hiding in the city's masses. At this height, a wind tunnel made it hard to breath.
He tossed a package wrapped in brown paper to the informant. "The trouble doesn't matter." Izaya shook it next to his ear and then put it away. "You know, I always liked you Kida-chan." Izaya walked like Kida, slow and contemplative, hands in his pockets, hunching his back to emphasize his thin frame. "Like a little prince. And the ambition, it cracks me up!" Izaya put his arm around him. "H-hey!"
"A little young to be a top dog?"
"…a little old… to be wearing a v-neck?" Izaya laughed maniacally. Kida stepped to the side.
"All right. All right." Izaya waved his hand up and down. "Here you go, knock yourself out. I don't get why you want the answers to the exam."
"I applied to Raika."
"Oh really? I'll toast to that."
Mikado liked grape juice. They would eat that at lunch together. Kida turned on his heel suddenly, but Izaya already had his binoculars out, studying the river of people.
"I'm done with the gangs."
"Any particular reason?"
"It's not fun anymore," he shrugged. Izaya looked at him for a few seconds, then lowered his head back down to the streets. Kida left the informant up in his cement fortress to twiddle with his cell phone, selling the news, giggling about the package.
On the sidewalk, Kida removed his scarf and stuffed it into his messenger bag. The manila envelope was too big, so he carried it under his arm. The train station was around the block. He dropped some change into a Styrofoam cup, stood next to a cute girl, and let a song get stuck in his head. He deleted some numbers from his cell phone. He sent two text messages. When he saw two boys get on, he squeezed out before the doors closed and caught the next line. He would be home soon.