. . . c o r p s e . . . r o a d . . .
It's been a week; and he still can't sleep.
Lying awake and alone in a queen-sized bed that's not his - he has the blankets and sheets shoved down to his waist; exposing his torso with the white tank top that covers it. He blinks slowly from where he stares out the window and the moon is big and bright and half-waned. The blueish-gray light spills in trough the glass and bare tree outside tilts and blows in the wind; making dark patterns across his bed with each silhouette through the moonlight.
There are books upon books stacked on the desk near the window; pathology and neurology and he doesn't think that he'll ever touch them again. He doesn't really have any desire; any inclination to return to school. Just... not now. Not yet. Sure, he's strong – physically, mentally and emotionally; but he doesn't think that he'll ever actually recover from this. He doesn't think or even care about graduating, anymore.
When he actually listens and pays attention, he can hear the sounds of the occasional whoosh as a car passes by the street outside his window. His cellphone rests on his nightstand; turned off as it has been all week. Right now – right now; he doesn't think he's ever going to contact any of his friends again. Tom and Shinra and Celty – he knows they'll worry and call and text; but he doesn't have it in him to talk about what happened.
It's still too soon.
He's barely over eighteen years old, and he's positive that this pain is far worse than anything else he could ever experience. Goodbye school, and goodbye friends – he has no plans to return to that life. He no longer wants to attend medical school; no longer wants to be a pathologist.
Just before he shut his phone off, his entire inbox was packed full of text messages and voice recordings. All sorry and sympathetic and Are you going to be alright? He listened to two voice-mails before he decided that he can't hear any of that right now. Can't hear it, so he doesn't. Shut off the phone and keep everyone else at bay. Hole himself up in his parent's house and cut off all contact to anyone and anything. He only leaves for his daily trip.
His parent's say they've already lost one son. They don't want to loose another.
Something of a small sigh escapes from his lips, and Shizuo lowers his eyes so he can stare at the blue numbers on his alarm clock. It's 3:16am.
It's been one week.
One week since the funeral.
His hands are shoved moodily into his pockets and a cigarette dangles between his lips; the air is cool and icy from late autumn weather and he has himself dressed in a navy blue jacket with a matching scarf. It's dry outside; anhydrous, and the sky is covered with a thick dark gray blanket of clouds. It looks like it's about to rain, but you're just being fooled. It's somber and unsettling; and Shizuo thinks the setting is about right; the outside is matching what he feels on the inside.
Leaves get kicked up and rustle around; drifting gently with each chilly breeze that passes by. Shizuo likes the steady 'crunch crunch crunch' the red and brown folioles make as he steps through them; down through the winding paths that lead him through the cemetery. He passes by dozens and dozens of headstones; all in different styles, shapes and sizes. When he glances up, a small frown makes to grace his lips.
There's a burial taking place not too far away on the other end of the graveyard, and he feels a twinge of sympathy. There's only one person watching the coffin get lowered; some skinny looking male teenager with short dark hair. Shizuo guesses that whoever died wasn't too important to anyone but that teen. It makes him feel even sadder, for a reason he cannot explain.
He huffs out a small cloud of white smoke, which instantly dissipates into the crisp air as the wind picks up again. The cemetery seems hollow and cold; and he doesn't think that the atmosphere or weather do anything to lighten it. But then again, this is a place of death. The lack of sunlight was giving everything a desaturated gray haze; and he sort of feels like he belongs in a horror film.
Shizuo reaches his destination and he finds himself standing stiffly before an individual tombstone. 'Kasuka Heiwajima'.
He has to read those words over and over again as he lets it sink in – once more, that it is his brother that lies six feet under. The dirt is still a bit discolored looking; fresh, but it's slowly fading into the appearance of the ground surrounding it. He wonders just how long it will be before grass and flowers and weeds start to overtake it.
He see's Simon in the distance; a large Russian man who always tries to strike conversation with him whenever he visits the cemetery. The older man is the grave-keeper; taking care of the graveyard with a strong hand that he doesn't see on many people. The man waves at him with an odd smile from across the cemetery, and Shizuo finds himself mirroring the gesture. Simon has a lot of interesting theories and insight about the afterlife; as well as a rather intense respect towards the dead. He has a tendency to memorize people as well as their cause of death.
The day that Shizuo buried his brother it was raining. The funeral home was packed with family and friends and admirers from school. Kasuka always was rather popular. It was a major loss to many; also working as something of a rather intense wake up call to a lot of people. Kasuka was only sixteen when he died, after all.
While the showing was taking place, Shizuo sat off to the side, thinking quietly to himself how oddly fitting the rain was as he kept his forehead pressed against cool window glass. It fogged a little with every breath he took; and the cool pressure was doing wonders on alleviated his inner turmoil.
Tom had pestered him a little. Are you alright? He would ask, and Shizuo would just shake his head because, no; he really wasn't.
Hugs and handshakes and plenty of I'm so Sorry's, and Shizuo didn't know how much more he could take. By the end of the day the funeral population was drastically cut to those closest to them.
He watched the coffin lower with his few friends and his parents and he was rather surprised with himself. Surprised that he didn't feel angry – didn't feel tempted to destroy everything around him. His temper was always short and highly destructive, though, it seemed to have been drained from him over the past week. Too trapped in his own misery to give a damn about anyone or anything. But that's fine – really, that's alright.
"Hey, Kasuka." He says softly from around his cigarette. Shizuo makes to sit down on the grass before the grave and gives a small, sad smile. It doesn't turn out as anything more than a mere twitch of lips. "I bet you're about sick of me coming here all the time, huh? You always were the independent one..."
He doesn't say anything else; just runs his fingers over the matted dry leaves that lay scattered amongst the grass and weeds. Kasuka doesn't give him a response, and Shizuo thinks he needs to stop expecting one. The dead don't talk; especially when they're buried several feet underground. He doesn't understand why he just can't seem to accept that.
Being here; being in his brothers presence...
His mother wants him to see a therapist. She says it'll do him good; help him deal with the grief – that she's already seeing the person, herself, but Shizuo ignores her as he climbs the stairs. He doesn't feel like talking and he walks heavily down the hallway. Their rooms are opposite of each other, and Shizuo stares at Kasuka's bedroom for a few moments before giving into himself once again.
Inside his brothers room, he kicks the door shut and collapses face first on the bed and lets out a heavy exhale. He's been sleeping in here ever since – he feels closer to Kasuka this way. This is his sanctuary, now, even if he knows how incredibly unhealthy it is. But; he's dealing.
Shizuo lays quietly for a something that he thinks is close to about an hour, and he turns over to look at his alarm clock to confirm it. He grabs his hand out to reach for the tiny white remote on the night stand, and he doesn't move from his laying down position as he clicks on the small T.V that belongs – belonged – to his brother.
The News plays and Shizuo doesn't particularly care. He just needs the bit of background noise – something to help drown out the endless static playing inside his own head. His father thinks he's been too quiet and Shizuo begs to differ. He's screaming inside, but no one can hear it.
Something about a tragic suicide incident of an 18 year old is reported, and he lets out a heavy sigh before he rolls over onto his back. They drown themselves in some local river.
That could be me, he thinks. I could do that.
The suicide victim was the same age as him; and they show a prettied up picture of the teenager on the television screen. Shizuo wonders what they went through to take such drastic measures.
Kasuka's ceiling is littered with stick-on stars and moons and Shizuo can't wait to see them light up in a dark room. His brother was always fascinated by little things like that; always wanting to learn. He saw a beauty in life and not many could achieve, and Shizuo wishes he could have that sort of perspective.
He buries his face into his brother pillow, letting out a heavy exhale in the process. Mocha eyes slide closed and Shizuo cannot take the exhaustion anymore. Too many days have passed and not enough sleep has been acquired. He breathes easy; a calming factor as he drifts off, but he can feel tiny prickles of chill against his skin.
"You know who's buried there?"
The voice makes him start a little from where he stands in the cemetery, and the cigarette between his lips nearly drops from the motion. Shizuo turns around to see another male near him; short dark hair and ivory pale skin. He's dressed in a dark brown jacket with black jeans and he has his hands in his pockets; there's a cheetah print scarf wrapped around his neck. He's got a pretty face, and his eyes are an odd sort of color; nearly classifiable as red - he's a fair bit shorter than Shizuo himself, and he looks too thin; too small.
"Of course," Shizuo scoffs as he turns away from the other teen, making to face Kasuka's tombstone once more. "Why else would I fucking be here?" A few ashes break off the tip of his cigarette and scatter away as a breeze titters through. The weather is just as aphotic and gloomy as it has been all week, and lifts a hand to adjust the navy blue scarf around his neck.
The darker teen steps up next to him, keeping his attention locked on the fresh soil as he reads the date of death. "Who was it?" His voice his smooth as velvet and his attire and posture strike Shizuo as someone who must have a lot of money. Pretentious bastard.
Shizuo grits his teeth a bit and his hands curl into fists. "...Not that's it's any of your fuckin' business, pal; but that's my brother." He feels angry all of a sudden and he can do nothing but blame it on the male next to him. This was his solitude – his time alone with Kasuka. He didn't want the interrupted by this tiny stupid fucking stranger he's never met before.
When the teen doesn't say anything in response, Shizuo growls out a curse and turns away; stalking angrily from the grave-site if only to get some distance from the other.
He's nearly out of the cemetery when he turns his head a little to look back, and the darker teen is still standing out there in front of Kasuka's headstone. Fuck him. Shizuo thinks with a heated glare. That bastard had no right to be so inconsiderate in a graveyard – why the hell was he even there, anyway?
Deciding he doesn't care enough to bother with it, Shizuo heads towards a local convenience store for cigarettes and hair dye.
There's a hole inside of him in the shape of Kasuka. It's fresh and the edges are torn and jagged; the cut not nearly as clean as one would hope. Sometimes it feels so large and gaping, and when the wind passes through it; it's hollow and too sharp a pain to endure. The hole refuses to heal and it keeps getting re-opened every time he visits the cemetery or sleeps in his brothers bed.
But not doing those things makes the ache increase ten fold. He'd rather keep picking at the scab if it brought some form of alleviation to his pain.
Shizuo bleaches his hair blond when he gets home.
He's sick of looking in the mirror and seeing his brother staring back. Even if he was much more masculine and rugged in appearance than his younger sibling, the similarities are still uncanny and it's tearing him apart inside. Recovery was never going to happen if he kept torturing himself like this.
His parent's don't make note of the change – they don't really comment on much these days. Their version of healing is even less healthy than his own. Father has taken to working nonstop and sometimes he's not heard from or seen in days. His mother is alright most of the time – the other times, though, she's a complete sobbing wreck; inconsolable and desolate.
Shizuo's never felt more alone in his life.
Eyebrows furrow and he can feel goosebumps start to raise at the sudden onset of chill his body takes up; he's starting to feel restricted and cramped.
It's dark – cold; and he can feel a gritty and moist compound itching his skin from behind his closed eyes. He feels trapped; limps heavy and he can't seem to make any sort of movement. He tries to pulls his fingers into a fist and they sift and scrap through grimy, thick sludge. It's soft and damp; icy – and it registers. It's soil.
He can't seen anything; there's some sort of cloth binding around his eyes, and he opens his mouth to shout – to scream, but the soft dirt tramples down and past his lips. It's foul and dingy and it clogs his throat and muffles his yells. He can feel it press behind his teeth and gums; under his tongue until he's choking on the soil and he can't breathe. He coughs and sputters but it only makes it worse and he can't get any oxygen – there is no air. It's all tight and compact around him; weight pressing down and his chest feels like it's caving in.
Help me. Please, god... someone help, he tries to scream but it comes out as nothing more than a strangled noise from the back of his throat. The dirt is filling his nose and packing into his mouth and he can't move. He tongues around the muck but only more seems to poor in. He's underground – he realizes that now, and the earth is tight and icy cold against his skin. Wrapping around him to the point that he feels bound.
His lungs ache and his pulse slams in his eardrums; pounding in fear and the pressure is building in his chest. Can't breathe – he needs air. He's going to suffocate; oh god, he's going to die. He's going to die -
Mind growing hazy – the static is increasing. Heart thumps harder and harder and harder. He's reaching the limit – he cannot take anymore; his lungs are going to explode and his heart would burst. It's too much – he can't take it. He needs the strength – he needs to live.
And he -
Shizuo's eyes snap open and a deep gust of oxygen fills his aching lungs – and... he's staring up at the glow in the dark stars and moons that are stuck to the ceiling of his brothers room. His jeans and t-shirt are stuck to him like a second skin; and he's clammy from the sweaty fear he was experiencing as he continued to lay on his back, panting with wide mocha eyes.
Just a nightmare; but it still felt so real. Shizuo lift's his hand, pressing his open palm against his cool and clammy face; he feels disgusting.
What if Kasuka was actually alive – and they buried him like that? Is that how he would feel...?
When he visits the cemetery the very next day, the dark haired stranger his sitting in front of Kasuka's grave. Shizuo wants to growl – to yell at this fucker's audacity at doing something so inappropriate, but he catches sight of the red and orange flowers sitting around the headstone, and the single matching one that the stranger twirls between his fingers. He looks contemplative.
The crunching of leaves and dead grass makes the smaller teen look up as Shizuo approaches, and he gives a little nod and grin in greeting. "You dyed your hair." He comments with a mild tone of approval. "Blond suites you."
Shizuo chooses not to respond to that as he closes in, coming to a stop before the headstone where he digs in the pockets of his jeans for his cigarettes. Tapping out a new one, he lights up with a heavy inhale and he stares at his brothers name etched across stone instead of looking at the man sitting on the grass at his side.
"Why are you here?" The blond questions because he knows that the other male doesn't know Kasuka.
The smaller teen shrugs a bit as he grips his jacket tighter around himself. He's wearing the same expensive garments that Shizuo saw him in yesterday. "I don't know, really. Just... I see you here everyday," He explains as he starts to pick the petals off of the orange flower he's holding. "You must have really loved your brother."
Shizuo's feels a sort of knot in his chest and he keeps the cigarette held up to his lips. He tries not to listen to the past tense referral of the other males words."Yeah," he says and his voice is tight. "I really do."
"How did he die?"
Feeling frustration bubble up from the hidden dam within himself, Shizuo has to catch himself from spitting out an insult. Has to remind himself of the dozens of flowers that are sitting around his brothers grave because this stranger had set them there - marigold's, he registers. It didn't make sense.
"Car accident." The blond answers briefly; straight to the point and no further explanation. He chances a quick look down at the brunet and sees him nod as if in understanding.
"That really sucks." The brunet says as he flicks a few petals into the grass.
They lapse into a silence that Shizuo dares to admit is more comfortable than awkward. He smokes quietly while he watches the other teen spin the flower between his fingers round and round, as he stares at the fresh grave before them. He can't see the smaller males face; just the top of his dark head from the way he has his face tilted down and Shizuo stands over him.
"I know how you feel, you know."
Shizuo has to freeze and look at the teen properly. His words catch in his throat and the knot in his chest pulls tighter and harder and the darker teen is staring up at him with an unreadable expression. He looks pained.
"What is that supposed to mean?" Shizuo says in response, flicking his eyes away from the others pretty face.
The brunet stranger looks back to Kasuka's grave and gives a small shrug. "I lost my entire family in a traffic accident," he explains and Shizuo has to swallow thickly as he listens to the other teens words.
"It was me, mom, and my twin sisters. I was driving and there was music playing... my sisters were talking to me, and I wasn't really paying close enough attention." His voice was steadily growing softer as he spoke. "Mom died first... and my sisters – they... Kururi died in the accident, and Mairu died at the hospital." He cranes his neck so he can grin up at the blond that in no portrays happiness. "I got some pretty serious scars... but, I was the only one who survived."
Shizuo lost his brother, but this stranger lost his entire family. All at once – just like that.
And it was his fault.
"Wow..." Shizuo mutters around the cigarette between his lips. He tries not to let it effect him in any way. "...How do you live with yourself?"
A small chuckle is heard. The brunet reaches into his jacket and holds up a half empty bottle of clear liquor for the blond to see; vodka. "Like this – it helps."
Staring at the bottle with mixed feelings, Shizuo huffs out some thin white smoke and he revels in the way it dissipates and clears as it mixes with the outside air. "Healthy way of grieving..." He mumbles and almost wants to eat his own sarcastic words.
"And smoking yourself to death is any better?" The brunet asks with that same bitter smile he's had most of the time they've been talking.
Having been called on his own hypocrisy, Shizuo grunts out something noncommittal and continues to smoke regardless. The brunet sure was one blunt little jackass; but it was that very same honesty that had the blond feeling something mirroring respect towards him.
"...What's your name?" Shizuo questions.
The brunet looks back up at him with a small grin. "Izaya Orihara," he says and points towards the opposite end of the cemetery. "My family is buried right over there."
It becomes something of a mutual, unspoken agreement. Shizuo starts to come to the cemetery around the same time everyday, and Izaya is always there waiting for him in front of Kasuka's headstone.
It was an odd sort of acquaintance – the brunet talked too much and too often for Shizuo's liking, but he almost always brought marigold's for his brother and he would clear out the old ones before they started to rot. Izaya said that the reason he was taking care of Kasuka's grave was because he felt sympathetic. He understood what Shizuo was going though; and that was the truth.
Conversation between them was typically one-sided. Shizuo will sit next to the brunet on the dingy grass where the autumn leaves would crunch under their weight. He'd sit and smoke and stare at his brothers grave and Izaya would drink whatever he'd brought with him while he played with one of the flowers he always took out of the bundle.
The grave-keeper; Simon, lets the two of them stay for as long as they want so long as they don't do anything to disturb any other graves; even if he knows that they won't.
Shizuo figures that Izaya has a high alcohol tolerance because he is always drinking, yet he never seemed to get drunk. He can't stop himself from wondering how long he's been like this – how long he's been suffering the guilt of accidentally killing his family. The brunet has a tendency to smile and grin and laugh even though it's obvious he's hurting.
Philosophies and superstitions – existence and theories. Izaya likes to talk about life and death a lot.
And Shizuo listens.
And, occasionally; the hole inside him wouldn't hurt so much as it scabs and he won't pick at it. Sometimes he forgets that it's only been thirteen days since Kasuka died.
"Do you ever wonder what it'd be like to die?" Izaya asks him one day, and Shizuo doesn't bother to speak his voice; opting more for a mere shake of his head, and his leg is starting to cramp and fall asleep from sitting for so long. "I mean, like... do you think about what happens after death?"
Letting out a sigh; his breath his mixed with thick smoke and Shizuo rubs a little at his forehead. "You're talking about the afterlife, right?" He says from his spot in the cemetery grass that's matted with dead leaves; arms propped on his bent legs. The brunet in question is seated beside him like usual; like he has been for the past week.
"Yeah," Izaya confirms as he picks idly at the flower in his hands. He's pulling off the petals once again, but this time he's trying to slip them through the cracks in the dried out dead leaves. "Personally; I'm an atheist. I don't believe in a God, heaven or hell... I don't think there's anything after death. I think that when we die – we die. Mind, body and soul. I don't think that there is anything more to existence; I don't believe that there is anything more out there." He has an open bottle in his hand; it smells a bit sweet. Seems he's drinking rum this time. "What about you?"
"I don't really know," Shizuo murmurs in response. He'd learned early on to simply let Izaya talk; his own opinion didn't matter much when it came to this sort of situation. What's more; he actually liked listening to the brunet – even if he never seemed to shut up. He was a good distraction, and sometimes Shizuo found himself really thinking about Izaya's perspective on certain issues.
The brunet rolls his eyes a little with a tiny sigh and he turns back to the flower petals and leaves he's cross-combining. "Right," he starts by way of musing, and he didn't really expect any sort of real response from the blond. "You know... I wonder if I'll still be an atheist when I'm lying on my deathbed. Everyone gets desperate when they're close to death, you know? They want anything – they will do anything to prolong their life. Even pray."
Izaya drops the leaves and petals to the grass in front of his folded legs, and leans back on his hands so he can stare up at the dark, cloudy gray sky. "There is this aphorism; 'there are no atheists in foxholes'... and it pretty much runs along those lines. There is a long standing argument with that, too. People have adapted it in several different ways – my favorite being; 'there are no atheists on a sinking ship'." He dips his head a little so that his chin touches near the meeting place between his collarbones.
"Makes me think... if I was about to be faced with death; would I pray?" Izaya says and his voice is soft this time. He's still wearing the same scarf and jacket he had on when they first met.
Shizuo already knows the answer to the question, and he startles himself with that knowledge. No, he wants to say; you wouldn't pray. He's learned a great deal about the brunet's character over the past few days, just from listening to him muse about random things.
When another silence reigns between them once more, Shizuo doesn't bother trying to fill it – he knows Izaya will break it soon enough. He always has, and he always will, it seems.
"Ne, have you ever heard of a 'death rattle' before?" Izaya asks at length, and this time the blond looks over at him a bit while he holds a new cigarette to his mouth, ready to be lit. He shakes his head in response as he flicks with his lighter, trying to produce a flame. "It's that sound people tend to make right before they die. It's kind of like choking – saliva builds up in your mouth, and you cannot swallow, and all that comes out is some sputtering. Then – …. you kick the bucket.
"There are instances where – after you die – your body will twitch or move. They show that kind of stuff in horror films a lot and all, you know. It's pretty fascinating – well, to me at least." Izaya looks over at the quiet blond and offers him yet another grin. "You see; after you die... after your heart stops, your brain doesn't really process it. You might be dead, but your body still thinks it's alive, and you've still got electrical impulses. Your nerves will send them through your muscles, and your arms or legs will twitch and jerk. Sometimes it'll look like a corpse having a seizure, if it's bad enough. But, if you sever the parametrial tract then it'll stop the spasms. The brain won't be connected to the nerves anymore."
"That's fucked up." Shizuo grumbles from his spot next to the brunet.
Izaya lets out something of a small chuckle and it sounds empty to Shizuo's ears. "I wasn't sure if you were even listening to me." He says, and the blond puffs out thick smoke as he sighs.
"I always listen to you."
The first time it happens Shizuo isn't really thinking about anything in particular. He's standing in the shower and lathering up his bleached blond hair with shampoo and his eyes are locked on the razor sitting in the tiny slot on the wall where the soap is supposed to go. The suds burn his eyes a little bit from keeping them open, and he snaps them shut for a moment so he can step back and let the water rinse his hair out.
Shaking his head a little and smoothing matted locks from his face, he returns his attention to the razor and he thinks about suicide. It would be so easy – so very easy to break that plastic apart and pull off the tiny blade; to dig it into his neck and slits through layers of skin and muscle in once quick swoop. The shower water patters around him like thick raindrops on ceramic tiles at his feet.
Before he even realizes what's happening; he finds himself crying. Not the simple, small and barely noticeable sort; but full blown aching sobs to the point that he has to brace his hand on the shower wall, trying to find a grip to keep himself up as he doubles over in pain. He wraps his other arm around his midsection and it feels like he's been fatally stabbed. He's always had an extreme adherence towards pain, but he's never felt something like this – it's not just emotional or mental; it's physical as well.
He cries to the point that he feels too weak to stand, and he eventually drops to his knees on the shower floor; his hand sliding down next to him as he lowers his head in anguish. He can't think anything, because - fuck... Kasuka...
The last memory Shizuo has of crying was when he was 8. Back then he had cried out of mere physical pain; having broken both arms and a leg in an accident that should have never happened.
He would rather have every bone broken in his body than have to endure something like this.
"You seem really depressed. Well, I mean... more than usual." Izaya comments and they're both sitting in the cemetery again; as they have been for the past week.
Shizuo makes a small 'hnn' in response, picking at the grass with a thoughtful disposition. Today is coldest it's been since the funeral, and his hands are freezing because he forgot to grab his gloves on the way out the door earlier this afternoon. The brunet next to him doesn't really seem to be too affected by the cold; still bundled up in his dark brown jacket and cheetah print scarf.
"You know..." Izaya starts, and he looks a little unsure about the subject he's about to bring up. That's not a good sign. "You said Kasuka died in an accident, right?"
The blond flinches at little at the sound of his younger brothers name, and he has to take a calming breath to keep himself from snapping at the other teen. Shizuo digs out his cigarettes and makes to lite one with slightly shaky hands. He tells himself that his nerves are just jittery because he pissed that his companion has the nerve to bring that up.
Early on they sort of developed a mutual agreement. Shizuo was sensitive to the subject of Kasuka and has a tendency to loose his temper when he was brought up in conversation. So in hindsight, neither would ask the other about the deaths in their families. Every other topic could be approached with ease, but that was something of untouched ground; taboo – a sort of line they didn't cross.
"Izaya..." Shizuo starts in warning, turning away from the darker teen as he takes a few deep inhales on his fresh cigarette.
"This is – I just want your opinion on something..." The brunet says, and he's not smiling. There is no smirk or grin on his face and the blond watches from the corner of his eyes. A silent form of permission, in a way. "Well... first, was the accident his fault or somebody else's?"
Shizuo suppresses the surge of aggravation that rushes through his veins at the question, and his fist is balled so tight that he can feel his blunt fingernails breaking the skin on his palm. "...It wasn't Kasuka's fault." He finally concedes.
"So... essentially someone killed your brother." Izaya says and he brings his knees forward so he can fold them Indian style. When his companion offers no response, he keeps his eyes fixed on the grave as he continues. "When you think about it – really think; would you be able to forgive that person for murdering him?"
Shizuo threads his fingers through his hair as he lowers his face a little; cigarette still held at his lips as he thinks. "No," he decides. "I wouldn't be able to forgive them."
Izaya nods with a tiny grin; as though he was already expecting that sort of answer. "Yeah, I thought so... I think that guilt is the hardest thing to live with, and forgiveness is the hardest thing to give. It's like a sort of weight that stays with you until you eventually learn to accept and adapt to it. It's kind of like missing a limb, or walking through your life with a blade pierced through your chest." He stops for a moment to take a drink from the tequila bottle he holds, and Shizuo has to lower his eyes away from the action. He's beginning to understand what the brunet is talking about.
"I think that those are the worst sorts of pain you can ever experience. You do something incredibly horrible – maybe you wreck a car and kill your family... then, it's your fault that they're dead, you know? There is no one else to blame, so maybe you let that guilt eat you up. Maybe... maybe you can't forgive yourself. Maybe you live on like you're half a person as you slowly rot away in your own mental prison." Izaya's voice cracks near the end, and Shizuo pretends not to hear, just like he pretends not to see the way the brunet's eyes are much too wet. Pretends not to see the few tears that slip and fall, unguarded down ivory pale cheeks.
"Yeah," Shizuo finds himself murmuring before he even knows it. "...I know how you feel."
The second time it happens, Shizuo is fully aware of what he's doing.
Leaning forward against the guardrail of the bridge, he watches the thick and violent; over-flooded current of the river below and he tries to smile. The wind is harsh and biting and it's slicing against his face and neck like little shards of ice. He thinks about the news report he saw – about that teenager that drowned themselves, and he breathes it in deeply, thinking, this is okay – I can do this.
He looks up; mocha eyes scanning over the dark and hazy sky that steadily drizzles down a misty sort of rain that dampens his hair; and there's a thick fog settled around today to you can't see more than about fifty meters before everything disappears into white and gray. It makes him wonder; if he were to jump right here and now, would anyone see it? How long would it take before they found his body?
Shizuo feels his throat close up a bit and his ears numb themselves to sound.
All he gets from his brief run in with insanity is another gaping black hole in his chest that steadily gets bigger and bigger; eating him away to the point that he almost thinks that he's rotting like some piece of trash.
What the fuck is he doing?
He can feel it – lungs robbed of air as he stares up at the dark blue lines slowly waving above him. The weight is crushing him; pinning him down with a sort of forcefulness that makes him choke and sputter but he can't open his mouth; the moment he does it'll be filled with the thick river water he was suppressed in.
The pressure is making his chest sink; pressing down on his lungs and making his limbs jerk and ache from the excessive need for oxygen. He doesn't want to swim to the surface; not that he even could. This was what he wanted, after all – he chose this, and, before he seconded his options once again; Shizuo opens his mouth and inhales.
The water seeps into him and he twitches willingly under the rivers surface; convulsing as he slowly drains himself of life and will and air, all the while telling himself that this was what he wanted. He wants to die, and the river is pulling at him as though it wants to be the one to kill him. A sort of mutual agreement with nature.
Blood pumping harshly and on over drive, and he can feel his pulse beat hard in every section of his body; thumping loudly in his ears. There's a silence in his head and it's almost like some kind of vacuum – sucking everything out of him and leaving behind the pain.
He's not trying to escape, because there is no escape. Just an endless black abyss that he welcomes with open arms because he chose this.
Shizuo gives in, thinking; this is alright. This is fine.
Mocha eyes snap themselves open and he's severely disappointed to find himself waking up.
To find himself lying in his brothers bed once again; staring blankly up at the ceiling that's cluttered with glow in the dark stars and moons.
Disappointed to find himself still alive.
"What do you think about suicide?"
For the first time since they met, it's Shizuo who instigates the conversation this time around. Izaya doesn't say anything for a moment, and he can feel the brunet's gaze picking him apart from where he sits at his side.
"I think about it a lot." Izaya finally answers honestly, and the blond has to stop and look at him to make sure he's being serious. The darker teen has face lowered to the ground and he's spelling out his name with ripped apart pieces of the orange marigold he picked out of the dozen he brought for Kasuka. "I really do," he says again. "It's not exactly easy to go on with life while knowing that I killed my whole family, you know?"
Shizuo nods a little and he blows hot breath into his cupped hands; trying to warm them up. He's got his gloves on this time, but they still feel like ice. "I've been thinking about it a lot, myself." He admits and turns to look at the brunet. Izaya's got a small smile on his lips, and Shizuo finds himself returning it.
"If..." Izaya starts, and he seems to be cautious with his words. "If you get ready to do it for real... will you let me come with you?"
A gust settles through the cemetery, scattering dried out leaves all around them, and the flowers of the graves shift a little bit. Shizuo exhales a stream of smoke that gets carried away with the wind, and he regards the brunet with a sense of understanding. "...Yeah," he says softly; confidently. "...And if you want to go, I'll come with you."
Izaya smiles a little more; it's a real one – not the sad and bitter ones he typically seems to adorn. "So... we can go together."
"Yeah," Shizuo confirms while he continues to smoke, and Izaya goes back to picking at the red and orange flower; as per usual. A comfortable silence falls over the two of them for a few brief moments before Shizuo finds himself breaking it. "...Why do you always bring those kind?" He questions with a light motion towards the bundles sitting before the headstone.
Izaya is in the middle of working on spelling his last name with the petals; his movements halt for a moment as he considers the blond's words. "Marigolds," he says. "... They mean 'pain, grief and sorrow'. You always looked so sad, so... I thought that he must have been someone extremely important to you." He watches the blond for a moment; the petals long forgotten. "Ne, will you... tell me about him?"
The silence this time is much more tense as the blond gives a nod and looks away; chest tight again as he tries to articulate his thoughts. "He... um," he starts, and has to clear his throat before he speaks again. "Kasuka – I love him. He's... I don't really have many friends... I've got a pretty bad temper, and I tend to snap and yell at people. I drive them away. My brother... he was there for me – always; when I didn't have anyone else. He's the only person I never snapped at, and... when I felt like I was completely alone... he was there to show me I wasn't."
"You haven't lost your temper around me." Izaya notes softly, but the blond is still turned away; still continues on as if he hadn't heard.
"I keep thinking about dying... about killing myself so I can be with him. He was... he is the most important person to me." Shizuo offers, and his voice is much more choked than before; rough and drawn like it was physically hurting him to speak. "I've never felt something like this before... and before I met you, I didn't really have anyone to talk about it with. I have a few friends... but they're not the kind of people I can talk to about this stuff. I'm not that close with any of them."
"Well, you can always talk to me. I'm pretty much in the same boat as you." Izaya admits, while he gives the blond one of his sadder smiles. "I don't have anyone else, either. So..."
Right then, Shizuo doesn't realize he's crying until he feels the wind slice against the wetness; his cheeks feeling itchy from windburn. His breathing is calm and his heart-rate is completely normal. He's not congested and there is no lump in his throat or knot in his chest – he's calm. He's perfectly okay, but it's something of a red herring considering that his eyes are too wet and his has to blink a few times to clear them of the blurriness.
"Shit..." He whispers to himself, lifting a hand so he can quickly wipe it down his face; erasing any evidence. He knows Izaya saw the tears but didn't make to call him on it; for which he's thankful. His cheeks are stinging now from the way the wind it pattering against his skin, and it's entirely too unpleasant. Shizuo grinds his cigarette out on the bottom of his shoe before he crushes it up enough to stick in his pocket without having to worry about burning a hole. He doesn't want to litter inside a graveyard.
"Hey..." Izaya says, and his voice is smooth an soft from where he sits at the blond's side. He doesn't take his eyes off of Kasuka's grave as he speaks, and there is no smile on his face. "...Are we friends?"
Shizuo feels his fingers itch for another cigarette, but he decided he's had too many over the past hour that's he's been here. "Well," he thinks; proud that he sounds strong even though he doesn't feel anything like it. "...we're going to die together, right?"
"So, we have to be something to warrant that." The brunet doesn't respond right away, and Shizuo tilts his head a little to regard him better. He cannot read his companion's expression; he seems closed off.
"...How do you want to die?" Izaya purposes and he leans forward a bit so he can pick at the flower petals once more. He needs to do something with his hands while he speaks; a slight form of distraction.
"Drowning," Shizuo replies almost instantly. He doesn't need to think about it because he's already thought it out long ago; planned it in his head all the scenarios in how he could go out. It seemed to be the most fitting.
"Drowning?" Izaya echoes, turning to he can read the blond better, Shizuo merely nods in confirmation. "Drowning... To be underwater and feel yourself gradually die; it's agony. You get to feel your lungs crush and your brain die – it's slow and it's painful." He narrows his eyes a little. "Why do you want to die like that? Why not quick and painless?"
"Because... I want to suffer."
"...Me too," Izaya agrees with a small, hollow laugh and he places his elbow on his knee so he can rest his rest in his palm. He's got his attention focused fully on the blond even as his free hand picks at the flower petals on the ground. "If you want... how about we do it tomorrow."
Shizuo stares at him; mocha eyes searching for some kind of back meaning in the brunet's words before he simply repeats back; "Tomorrow...?"
"Yeah," the brunet says in accord. "You want to die with me tomorrow?"
Something about the simply request seems so light; like they weren't talking about death – like they weren't talking about killing themselves in a rather specific and stated fashion. But yet, Shizuo couldn't stop himself from admitting that he felt a great deal of respect towards the other teen. He was different; and he appreciated that.
"Alright," the blond concludes while running it over in his mind; the thought of finally ending it all.
Izaya beams at him; a smile that seems more happy than usual and he's finally got his name spelled out with the flower petals on the ground. 'Izaya Orihara' was written dark orange across the matted and slowly dying grass. Shizuo feels an ache in the pit of his stomach for no apparent reason.
"So when you come tomorrow... we'll go and do it." The brunet reiterates, if not for an affirmation from both parties.
When he goes home that night, Shizuo makes sure to push himself into socializing. He's talks to his mom about her day at work, and he talks to his dad over the phone because he's still at work, and he calls all of his friends.
Shinra talks non-stop about his girlfriend, Celty; and Shizuo cannot help but wonder to himself what it's like to experience that sort of love. That sort of complete and total devotion to someone, and then he has to remind himself that he just made a suicide pact that will be carried out tomorrow; a dying man has no use for such sentiments. Shinra isn't very good with being serious so Shizuo can't tell the other teen just how much he appreciates his friendship. But, he does anyway.
He tells Tom that he's alright – and yes, he's been eating properly and yes, he's been getting plenty of sleep. They're both obvious lies, but he doesn't further talk about it, and Tom doesn't call him on it. Shizuo tells his friend that he loves him; he really does. The other teen was one of the first people to befriend him despite of his raw temper and biting words; he worked as something of a calming factor as well. Tom doesn't know how to react to the admission, so he merely says No problem, and You know I love you to because you're my best friend.
None of them realize that he's saying Goodbye, and he's alright with that.
Shizuo knows he's selfish.
But it's his life and his choice and he's knows for a fact that nothing and no one is going to change his mind.
He eats dinner with his mom because his dad hasn't come home; and Shizuo wonders in that moment – wonders if his dad will be at work when they find his body floating in the river. He answers his own question of Probably.
His mother doesn't really say much throughout the meal, and he can tell she's trying really hard. Trying to move on with life and smile and life and act like everything is okay. But it's not; all she did was sweep the dirt under the rug. Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it's not still there; and it's blatantly obvious at certain times. He chooses not to comment on it.
How would they react? Loosing both of their sons. One to an accident and another to suicide. Shizuo thinks that they probably won't recover; he thinks that it might dive one of them to the edge where they do something gruesome that makes them wind up in a padded cell with only their thoughts as company.
Shizuo drains the rest of the milk from his glass. He thanks his mother for dinner, tells her he loves her and heads back to Kasuka's bedroom before he can hear her stuttered and unsure response.
Doesn't want to hear it.
He lays back on the mattress with a sigh as he stares up at the ceiling. The moons and stars aren't glowing yet because it's still too light in the room.
It's been three weeks since the funeral.
Shizuo doesn't dream that night.
There's soft of an air of acceptance that lingers around him and he's not really thinking anything. He's going to die today and he's more or less looking forward to it. It's cold again today and he makes sure to stop and get some hot cocoa and one of his favorite danishes before he starts on his trek towards the cemetery. There's frost clinging to the grass all around him, but it has yet to actually snow. Shizuo thinks that's alright with him – he doesn't mind missing out on the first snow of the year because he never particularly liked it in the first place.
He sips on his hot chocolate and enjoys the warmth and he feels completely empty. Blank. He knows he should be feeling something, at least – maybe eagerness to get on the suicide track, or maybe anxiety – hesitation? He knows he should feel something along those lines, but he doesn't. It's almost like he's been shut down, and that's fine. He was always an emotional train-wreck anyway, so he welcomes the change.
Leaves crunch under his leather boots as he steps into the large cemetery; it's about their meeting time and Izaya is always there before him, anyway. Shizuo winds through paths of headstones of all different varieties until he finds himself in the correct row. He slows a little bit when he doesn't see anyone sitting in front of a grave and with a quick glance around himself he doesn't see Izaya anywhere in sight.
Closing in, Shizuo furrows his eyebrows as he processes the fact that Kasuka's grave is completely clean and bare – there are no marigolds littered about it, new and old. Izaya always left them there until they died; bringing in fresh ones everyday. He didn't understand.
Something tugs inside his chest and he swallows it down, thinking that the brunet was probably just running late. Maybe he needed to take care of a few things before he died. And, if he repeated that to himself a few more times, Shizuo might actually start to believe it himself.
Taking a deep breath that makes his lungs hurt because the air is too chilly – too icy, the blond lowers himself down in front of the grave so he's sitting in his usual spot. He digs out his cigarette's and lites one up while he continues to drink his beverage despite the fact that it's still scolding hot. It makes him feel warmer on the inside as well as out, so he deals with it.
He's still waiting for his companion.
Somewhere in the back of his mind he thinks; maybe Izaya backed out. Maybe the brunet decided he wanted to live after all – maybe... maybe he already went and offed himself before Shizuo. Maybe he decided to break their pact in general.
Shizuo is starting to feel insecure and cheated, and by the evening he's gone through all of his cigarette's and the butts are piled into his empty Styrofoam cup. He's huddled up in his coat and scarf and pressing his arms against himself while he keeps his gloves hands clasped together. He thinks about giving up; about heading on home, or heading down to the nearest bridge and pitching himself off into the water. Alone.
After four hours of waiting, it's becoming painfully obvious that Izaya is not going to show. The sun is starting to set, and the temperature is steadily dropping. He feels rejected.
"Yo. Shizuo. You go home?"
The blond looks up; startled at hearing another human voice after hours of silence. Simon is a few meters away, slowly walking towards him with a frown set on his face and his voice is thick with his Russian accent.
"What...?" Shizuo grunts out and he sounds too rough to his ears.
"You go home, or you catch cold." Simon states simply as he approaches him. "You been here all day."
"Yeah," Shizuo says and he winces a little as he moves to stand. His limps feel stiff and achy from sitting in one position for so long in this freezing weather. "Simon... you know that guy that I'm always sitting with when I come here? Have you seen him at all today?"
The older man tilts his head a little and his face is just as stony and hard as ever. "Who?"
"That guy – dark hair, pale, really skinny?" He explains and he's beginning to feel frustrated.
"You always alone, Shizuo." Simon remarks. "You come here and visit Kasuka. You sit and stare at headstone."
The blond sighs in irritation; smoothing one of his gloved hands over his hair in a calming fashion. He shouldn't take his anger out on the other man; it wasn't his fault his suicide companion was a fucking liar. "No, I'm always with another guy my age. His name is Izaya."
Simon studies him for a long moment before he speaks. "...Orihara, Izaya?" He questions with the same flat and unreadable voice he always uses.
"How... did you know his last name?"
"Izaya died two weeks ago. He buried with family over there." The Russian man points over to the same section of headstones that Izaya had motioned towards once before. Shizuo just stares at him dumbstruck; the words almost sounding like some kind of really bad joke, and Simon catches on. "Come, you see." He states, and takes the blond by the arm so he can drag him over the graves of the Orihara family.
Shizuo nearly trips over himself in shock when he comes face to face with a tombstone clearly marked 'Izaya Orihara.' Sure enough, the date says that two weeks have passed, and the dirt looks much fresher than his brothers does. When he flicks his eyes over to one of the headstones setting next to it; he read's the name of the brunet's sister, marked with the same date of death as Kasuka's. He feels his world come to a screaming stop.
"Simon... do you know... how Izaya died?"
The older man nods, though the action is lost to the blond. "He get in a car accident and his family and other driver all die. He so guilty that one week later he kill himself by drowning in river."
Swallowing thickly as it all falls into place, Shizuo doesn't want to believe it. Izaya was the one his brother got into a wreck with. The wreck not only killed Kasuka, but the entire Orihara family as well. The brunet killed himself out of grief – he was the one on the news... and...
Shizuo looks up - back in the direction of his brothers grave, and a single orange marigold stares back from it's place near the headstone.
And he gets it now. He understands.
It's easier to forgive someone else than it is to forgive yourself.
. . . t r a c k l i s t . . .
1. open your eyes – snow patrol [title]
2. outside – staind [main theme]
3. seize the day – avenged sevenfold [second theme]
4. dream on – aerosmith [shizuo's depression]
5. bother – stone sour [shizuo's theme]
6. this night – black lab [izaya's theme]
7. ashes to ashes – tarbox ramblers [thinking of suicide]
8. cry – james blunt ['i understand'...]
9. come as you are – nirvana ['a friend'...]
10. pieces – red ['let's go together'...]
11. hey man, nice shot – filter [realization]
12. love song requiem – trading yesterday [ending theme]
Yes, Izaya was actually dead the entire time, but I left it open for your interpretation. Was he a ghost, or was he a hallucination that Shizuo invented out of grief? There are hints and little things littered throughout the fic pointing in both directions, so you can take it however you want.
Shizuo was studying to go to medical school; he's interesting in being a Pathologist. Izaya talked about medical subjects that normal people wouldn't know.
Shizuo saw Izaya in the cemetery before he saw the news report about his drowning/suicide.
Simon likes to talk to Shizuo about superstitions/death/afterlife, ect; a lot of which was talked about by Izaya.
There was a marigold on Kasuka's grave at the end.
There are a lot more.
The psychology in this one is pretty heavy... I don't expect everyone to get it. But, if you have any questions, or you're confused – just ask me in a review so I can PM you back. There's so much I'd like to explain and talk about with it; but once again, just ask.
Regardless, please review and tell me what you think. I would love to hear from you.