A/N: Yeah, I know, I have a different Shizuo x OC story that isn't even nearly done… but to be honest, I'm getting a little bored with it right now, (I'm pretty sure I have ADD when it comes to writing stories) and then this idea popped up in my head and wouldn't let go til I wrote it. And thus, you have this. I hope everyone enjoys.

chapter one ; we have a reason to be in the car ...

Tsukamoto Nana heaved a sigh as she left the convenience store; the merrily jingling bells on the door that signaled her exit failed to match her mood at all. With a sullen pout etched into her face, she began walking home, trying to wrap her worn coat around her in a fruitless effort to get more warmth. Her stomach began grumbling at the thought of the instant ramen in the plastic bag that dangled from her hand – it would be the only food she'd eaten today so far, and she was beginning to get one of those annoying hunger headaches. Unfortunately, after counting bills and other expenses, this was what she'd had enough money for.

Three stinkin' cups of instant ramen… Two of which would be eaten by her father, no doubt. And that was assuming that he was actually home for once. Usually, her father could be found at a bar, drinking away his sorrows or making bets that he'd never win. Her pout deepened into something akin to a scowl as the wind blew harder, making her feel like her bones were as brittle as a hundred year old woman's. Maybe if Tou-san didn't spend all his money on booze and horses, I'd be able to buy a new coat… yeah, a nice warm one! With fur, and a hood… She was so caught up in her fantasies of new clothes that she'd never buy that she didn't see her father until she heard him.

"P-Please, Tanaka-san! Just give me some more time, I promise I'll have those debts repaid as soon as I can!"

Debts? Lord, please let it not be my father. Apparently, whatever higher power that existed was frowning on her, because she spotted her skinny, balding father a short distance away, kneeling at the feet of two men – one with dreads, the other with blond hair. Her father was facing her, but didn't even see her as the blond man stomped his cigarette on the ground and gripped her father up by his collar, yelling something about 'annoying bastards.'

Now, Nana often times thought her father was a good-for-nothing, gambling alcoholic – he was someone who'd rather go to a bar and spend all his money getting absolutely trashed beyond repair than buy his daughter a new coat in the face of the harsh, upcoming season. It wasn't that she couldn't buy herself one. In fact, she tried her best not to rely on other people's pity or sympathy, seeing it as showing a sign of weakness within herself. However, whatever wages she made went to keeping a roof over their head, and that also included a roof that had running water and lights that actually turned on when you flipped the switch. Everything added up all too quickly for her, and because her father neglected to be man of the house, Nana had to take that position over… which left her with pretty much zip for herself. Because of this, she often talked to him in a disrespectful manner when she was disgusted with him… which was a lot. Maybe she hoped it would knock some sense into him, or maybe she just had to speak her mind – either way, she found the spiteful words flowing out of her mouth like vomit.

Putting all that aside, though, she still thought of the man who used to take her to the park when she was little. The man who'd buy her ice cream or those cute hair ribbons she absolutely adored, or that CD she'd wanted so badly. The man who used to take her to amusement parks when her mother was still around… Eventually, those things had dwindled down to nothing but ashes when her said woman had left them for a well-to-do business man, and a part – no, more than a mere part – of her father had died. They were her most cherished memories, as they were ones she'd probably never get to re-live, judging by the look of things. Still, she loved her father regardless. If she didn't, she'd have up and left him just like her mother, and then she would only have to support one person instead of two, leaving behind the one of them that had costly habits.

She loved her father (and if anyone was gonna beat some sense into him, it'd be her, damn it, not his tall assailant), which is how she found herself jumping on the back of the blond man, growling as ferociously as she could and snapping in his ear like she was some sort of rabid little animal. The bag of instant ramen was forgotten on the ground as she yelled and pounded at the blond to let her father go, but her cries were probably so loud, close, and strung too close together to his ear that it probably sounded like a bunch of gibberish to him. Nana tried choking him with her arms since her legs beginning to slide off his back anyway, dangling above the ground. The darker skinned man found himself staring at the spectacle, and he probably would've laughed if his blond haired companion didn't look like he was ten times more pissed off now that some scrawny thing had hopped onto his back like he was giving out free piggy back rides and was now trying their hardest to constrict his wind pipe. Nana figured that the blond saw her father as less of a threat than her, him being all weepy and snivelly and all, because he dropped her father and then reached a long arm behind him to grab her by the scruff. She yelped as he easily swung her in front of his face by the back of her jacket like she weighed nothing – which wouldn't be too far from the truth, she guessed, because of her eating habits (or rather, lack thereof).

"Let me go, you big bully!" She screeched, glaring at him. She saw his eyes widen a tiny fraction beneath those blue tinted sunglasses of his, and she kicked and wiggled in the hold he had on her. He wasn't expecting it to be some teenage girl – maybe another weak grunt that wanted to try and say he took down Heiwajima Shizuo, but not this. He might be the most brutal ass-kicker in all of Ikebukuro, but hitting girls wasn't his thing. His anger began to die down, and he didn't utter a word as she continued to struggle in his grasp, looking all the part of a disgruntled, rebellious kitten about to be scolded by her owner.

"Didn't you hear me, you big oaf!" Let me go, she says, and she's the one who jumped on my goddamn back first,Shizuo thought dryly. Still not about to let her go, he was about to ask her who the hell she thought she was, when their 'client', Tsukamoto Daisuke answered for her.

"N-Nana…?" The balding man stumbled to his feet, blinking rapidly to try and make sense of everything in his alcohol fuddled brain. "What are you- What are you doing, Nana!"

Her neck craned as best as it could to face the man, "Trying to save your sorry butt from being pounded into the concrete, tou-san!" She spat at him, and Daisuke seemed to shrink back in shame. While this exchange was going on, Shizuo gave a sideways glance to Tom as if to say would you care to tell me what the fuck is going on? Tom merely shrugged, but resumed looking on with some degree of interest at the unfolding situation.

Before her father could say anything back, she continued to prattle on, "And what's this about debts? Why the hell would you take out loans in the first place, huh? Did you think you were just gonna win the money back from racing horses? Did you think you were just gonna find it at the bottom of your stupid bottle of booze?" With each scalding statement from the girl, he seemed to shrivel a little bit more. She squirmed around again, redirecting her scowl to the blond.

"And you! Didn't I tell you to let me go?" She huffed, trying to cross her arms even though she was somewhat restricted by the too big jacket being scrunched up by his hold on it. Ah, yes. Let it be known that Nana could also have a mighty temper at times – it was something she'd developed from having to fend for herself most of the time, something that had come along when she'd finally had enough of bullies teasing her because of her ratty school uniform and her runaway mother and useless father.

Such a loud voice for such a little person, Shizuo thought, mentally grimacing as he lowered her onto the sidewalk, and she stuck her nose up at him and dusted off imaginary dust from her coat. Tom cleared his throat – amusing as it had been, business was business, and money still had to be collected nonetheless.

"Tsukamoto-san-" Both pairs of their eyes whipped around to him, one set teary and the other looking quite miffed. He started up again, "There is still a debt to be paid…" Tom could tell that Daisuke was about to try and feed him the same excuse he already had a few minutes ago, but the girl beat him to it.

"What does he owe you people?" Shizuo had lit up another cigarette while quietly puffing it and letting Tom take over again. Observing the girl, he couldn't help but notice the way the girl's shoulders seemed to sag in defeat as she voiced her question, even though she'd been about ready to scratch his eyeballs out - sunglasses or not.

"168080 yen," Tom sighed out, scratching the back of his head. "Haven't gotten any of it back yet, either, and it's been a couple of weeks already…"

Nana was silent for a moment, staring down at the pavement, until she looked back up with a derisive snort. "Well, you're not gonna get it from him, sorry to tell you…" She jerked a thumb back at her sorry looking excuse for a father, "But I'm sure you debt collectors won't let that go. I've seen the movies, y'know!" She announced, and it reminded Shizuo of a child trying to be more wise than she really was.

"So…" Her shoulders dropped even more underneath her raggedy, too-big coat, "I'll take over the payments myself." In that second, gone was the loudmouthed attitude, and in its place was a defeated young woman, looking for all the world like life had trampled all over her one too many times. In that same second, though, she straightened up, a spark coming to her eyes, "Got a problem with that, collectors?" she all but barked, arms crossed and feet spread.

Daisuke looked like he was about to kiss his daughter's feet as Tom stroked his chin thoughtfully. "I suppose it's fine, as long as we get the money owed to us, ne, Shizuo?" The blond grunted in response, taking another drag from his cigarette. Nana's eyes flickered between the both of them.

"So, it's settled, then?" She asked. Tom nodded, and all she could think about was that she was definitely not going to get a new coat or new anything for a while… Another sigh escaped her, and she turned to her father.

"Let's go home, tou-san. I bought us dinner," she retrieved the plastic bag that had been dropped in her surprise attack, holding it up for Daisuke to see.

"A-Actually, Nana-chan…" he started quietly, and she visibly stiffened. Her father only added the –chan to her name when he was about to tell her something he knew she wouldn't like or approve of, as if it would soften the blow or something… which it never did. "I have to go see how the horses are holding up in the race…" At this point, his index fingers began poking together sheepishly, and he slowly backed up little by little. Her eyes widened in disbelief as she gaped at him like a fish.

"So, I'll see you at home later, Nana-chan!" He ditched the slow escape route and decided to go for a full blown sprint, "You're the best daughter ever!" he shouted over his shoulder, leaving a now fuming Nana alone with the two collectors.

"That… that… useless, good-for-nothing-!" Her small fist shook in anger, and momentarily she thought about trying to catch up with him, but she knew it'd be of no use. Instead, she turned to them, trying to even out her breathing.

Shizuo saw a little bit of that crushed spirit showing through her eyes, but like before, it was quickly gone, and she shoved her free hand in her pocket. "Well, collectors… when you're trying to get in touch with me, I'm sure that my father will gladly give you my cell number if you call him about the payments." With a glum look on her face, she turned back around and started walking away from them, shivering as her bag of 'dinner' swung almost desolately against her leg.

"Well… that was interesting. Can't say that's ever happened to me before," Tom chuckled, "I have to say, though, I feel somewhat bad for her. What a dad, huh?"

Shizuo merely grunted again, flicking his cigarette on the ground and stomping it out. He took another glance at the retreating girl, and couldn't refrain from thinking how pitiful her tiny silhouette looked as she meandered off, seeming like the exact picture of someone who felt they had the weight of the world on their shoulders. Not my problem, he thought as he followed after Tom to see after the rest of their clientele.

Nana wiped away the steam that had created a film over her bathroom mirror, examining herself in the reflection. Brown eyes stared back at her, and she picked at her long, wet taupe colored hair, trying to smooth it into some kind of part. She wanted to look as good as she could today; it was time to find another job, of course, now that this debt had been dumped on her.

Idiot, you brought it on yourself! She thought grumpily, But if I didn't… it's not like tou-san would pay them back anytime soon, and I really don't want or need a pair of debt collectors banging down my door, that's for sure! It had been two weeks since she'd heard or seen the collectors, so she was beginning to expect their appearances any day now…

She shook her head, lightly slapping her cheeks; she had to be focused for her mission today. Sure, Nana already had a job at the local nursing home being a… well, she didn't really have a job title, she surmised. She did all sorts of things, from minor maintenance issues to the gardening, to washing dishes and checking up on the residents (more like keeping them company, which she didn't mind so much). However, no matter how many tasks she juggled there, it wouldn't be nearly enough to cover the expenses of paying those people back. After all, she barely made enough to keep living as it was.

Ever since that night she'd ambushed the blond in a bartender's outfit, she'd been trying nonstop to find a job. Anything would do, really, except she didn't want to have to sell her body… but if she really couldn't find a job, would she have to do that? Ahh, I hope not! Her mind reflected on all the times in the past two weeks she'd been turned down or hadn't heard back from possible employers. With shoulders sagged, she turned out of the bathroom, shaking her head at the loud snores emanating from her father's room.

He'd come home drunk around 3 in the morning last night, as usual; and when he passed out on the floor slobbering all over it, Nana had dragged him to his room and tucked him into bed… as usual. No point in being miserable about it, if it's not gonna change – at least anytime soon, she hurriedly reminded herself in an effort to try to keep her spirits afloat. I guess I could be happy he's not abusive towards me. If anything, it's the other way around… As she rummaged through the few clothes she had, she realized, to her dismay, that she only had one suitable, nice outfit. It was the same one she'd worn every time she'd gone out job hunting. With a sigh, she grabbed it anyway, coming to terms with the fact that this was gonna be as good as it got.

A few minutes later, she was examining herself in the mirror again. She was wearing a dark blue skirt, some dark hued stockings, and a plain white blouse that tied at the front of her neck. I guess it works… The skirt was shorter than she'd have liked, her clothes being a couple years old; she'd grown taller, but she still looked almost like skin and bones. No matter how much she tried taming her hair, it still had wild waves and she scowled at it, trying fruitlessly to arrange it a different way, but gave it up. She tossed on her big, black pea coat that had seen better days a long, long time ago, grabbing her bag and heading for the door. She was about to pull on the one pair of shoes that she owned, but remembered to write her father a note. Finger on her chin, she wondered about the best way to word the letter.


Went out to find another job since you SPEND ALL YOUR MONEY, instead of paying your DEBTS and BILLS.

Love, Nana

Well, the whole 'Love, Nana' part should sugarcoat it a little… She knew she probably sounded like a too harsh parent, but it was the truth. She still hoped that the more she brought it up and the more that she berated him, he'd try to get his act together; maybe he'd try to be someone his daughter could be proud of. Sighing again (she seemed to be doing that more than usual), she tried to erase the thoughts from her head as she returned to the door. She laced up the brown boots that were sitting by the door, leaving and locking the door behind her.

For it almost being December, it happened to be a beautiful day out. Nana deeply breathed in the crisp air, smiling to herself as the sun's rays washed over her upturned face. I'm glad I won't be freezing to the bone today… She hoped that this great weather was pointing to this being a great day. A great day to her consisted of these things: finding a job and avoiding the collectors.

Sure, she had a little bit of money she could give to them, but she'd kind of need it for dinner the rest of this week. Nana had been so sure she'd be able to find a job before this much time had passed… now she felt like she was about to start nibbling her nails until she didn't have any left. She put on a strong front – well, not to say she wasn't strong, but there was no way she'd be able to defend herself against those people; especially the guy who'd gripped up her father, who was a fully grown man – and her, like it was nothing. Mid step, she had a horrible flash of one of the possible ways a meeting between them could go; she'd end up throttled by that tall blond, probably looking just as pathetic as her father, all mush and blood and gore on the sidewalk…

"Yo, Tsukamoto-san."

The voice had come from below in the middle of her thoughts, at the foot of the stairs she was walking down, and it nearly startled the life out of her. She let out an "Eeeek!" before almost falling down the stairs.

Clutching the railing for dear life with one leg wrapped around one of the bars, she glared at the voice – It was that Tanaka guy with his big blond sidekick who was looking off to the side disinterestedly while puffing a cigarette.

"D-Didn't your mother ever tell you not to sneak up on people!" she asked, her voice being too high for her liking. He just chuckled and apologized (not that sincerely, might she add…). There goes the one half of what would make this a great day, she thought exasperatingly.

"I wasn't sneaking up, Tsukamoto-san. I was in plain view, wasn't I?"

The girl grumbled and slowly detached herself from the stairway railing, still looking at them warily. Tom continued, "Now, I distinctly remember us making a deal about two weeks ago-"

"Yeah, yeah, I remember." Looking slightly crestfallen, she walked down the remaining stairs, fumbling in her bag. She opened up her wallet, frowning at it. Well, stomach, you're gonna be aching until payday, she thought, feeling like she wanted to cry. At least payday was only a couple days away... she could manage. It was only a little bit of money – there were probably some cobwebs and tumbleweeds in there, too… "I'm sorry, but this is all I have." She held out two blue thousand yen notes.

Tom raised a brow, but took the money anyways as she shoved the now empty wallet back in her bag. "That's it?" As soon as the words were out of his mouth, she looked up sharply.

"What do you mean, 'That's it?'" Her brows were furrowed in anger, "I'll have you know that that was the money I needed for food this week-!" Nana clapped her hands over her mouth.

Even though she tried to stop herself from sounding so damn pathetic, she'd failed. Miserably. It was humiliating enough that she could barely feed herself – now she'd just announced to two strangers that she wasn't even going to be able to do that. Her face flamed red with embarrassment.

"I… I mean…" Her eyes drooped and she tugged at the ends of her long hair. "Argh!" With that, she threw her hands up in the air and started stalking away.

"Well… it's at least something, I suppose." Tom mused, then started walking back into the city, Shizuo trailing behind him silently.

It was late evening when Nana dropped herself on a park bench, feeling quite defeated. Again, she'd had no success; she'd gotten the same responses she had every day the past two weeks. Nowhere was hiring. The girl had gone into a couple of boutiques, but they only eyed her worn clothing with distaste and told her the same thing. Restaurants and cafes weren't interested in having to train someone with no serving experience, convenience stores didn't need that many employees, and some stores were only family owned… Damn it. She felt that horrid lump start to grow in the back of her throat, and tears came unbidden to her eyes.

Damn it! Her stomach grumbled – it had been grumbling like that since she'd woken up this morning. Her hunger that she was trying to ignore was the last straw that broke the camel's back; or in her case, the dam that was holding back all the stress and tears she'd been withholding. Soon, Nana found herself openly sobbing, fists clenched tightly in her lap as she bawled alone in the park. What the hell am I going to do? I can't handle this pressure… Maybe I should've just left tou-san to fend for himself. But the thought of her abandoning her father made her cry harder.

You should be ashamed of yourself, Tsukamoto Nana. To even think of abandoning your flesh and blood… you're horrible, aren't you? Her eyes stared half lidded at the ground in front of her, and amidst all the tears, she desperately hoped no one was around to hear her pathetic wails. Like before, someone up there must have not liked her, because the next thing she knew large, dark shoes had appeared in her line of vision. Ugh, this whole park is empty, but someone has to come over to me when I'm looking like this…

"Yo," came a gruff voice from above.

She stared back at her lap, trying to blink and rub the tears away before she tried to even look at whoever it was that was bothering her. When she looked up, she felt her mouth gape open a little. It was the blond guy, Mr. Dreads' partner in crime. One half of my problem, she almost thought, then corrected herself, Ahhh… It's not his fault, and you know it, Nana. He didn't force tou-san to take out a loan or anything…

"What is it?" she questioned with bleary eyes. She must've looked a mess. Her hair was tangled from being tugged and raked through from frustration, her eyes were all red and puffy, and she probably had snot running down her face like a two year old.

He didn't say anything, just studied her through those blue tinted sunglasses of his. He took out a cigarette from his pack and took a seat next to her, lighting it up. She turned her head to ask him again, when her stomach decided to rumble again; its sound was akin to an earthquake off the Richter scale, and she flushed in embarrassment. She hurriedly got up and was about to walk away to save herself some unnecessary indignity when he finally spoke, exhaling a flurry of smoke.

"Do you like sushi?"

A teary acknowledgment that yes, she did like sushi and a short walk later, Shizuo found himself sitting across from Tsukamoto Nana at Russian Sushi as she violently shoveled food down her throat. At first, she'd been a bit timid with her food, almost playing with it, but now she seemed to have no qualms about pigging out in front of him. She was demolishing everything on the plate, even that weird prosciutto sushi that Simon seemed to be so fond of.

She appeared to have remembered that someone was actually sitting across from her and stopped her chopsticks in mid air, lowering them down to her plate. "Um… Shizuo-san, right?" He figured she heard Simon calling his name in his over pronounced accent when they entered, and he nodded. A slight blush on her cheeks, she looked at the spot right next to his head.

"Why did you buy me this?" Her gaze went back to her lap, "I mean… I told you I didn't have any money-…" Instantly, the timid look she'd had was gone in a flash, and the attitude he'd seen the first night she'd attacked him was in place, in addition to a look of realization.

"W-Wait a sec! You're not putting this on top of all my debt, are you?" Her cheeks flushed even more in indignation, "Is that how you collectors do things nowadays?" She asked in a shrilly tone.

She opened her mouth to let loose more accusations when he simply said, "I felt like it."

Rebukes forgotten, she stared at him. Blinking rapidly, she reddened even more than she already had, "…O-oh." Feeling embarrassed, she looked anywhere but him. "Then… thanks, Shizuo-san. And s-sorry," she mumbled.

He shrugged, "It wasn't anything." He had a feeling that it was to her, though. Judging by the way she shoveled that food down and that humongous growl her stomach produced at the park, she hadn't eaten that much food in a while. Shizuo couldn't imagine what that would be like; he and Kasuka always had food to eat, along with three square meals a day. Even when they had both moved out, he'd never really gone hungry. He supposed he just felt bad for this waif of a girl that was sitting there rubbing her stomach contentedly.

"Either way… thanks. Really." She gave him a tiny smile. This girl switches moods like a light switch...

Who'd have thought he was such a nice guy? She asked herself as she waved at him from her apartment door upstairs. He gave a lazy salute then walked away from the complex, into the night. She watched him for a few seconds before entering her dark apartment.

Boy, am I glad he said something before I accused him of wanting my body as 'payment'…

A/N: I'm condensing the chapters and re-editing some stuff; nothing important, it's just me re-reading stuff and itching to change it...