Title: The Truths of Being Alive

Chapter Title: 3. A Game Fit For Kings

Author: Primal Red

Character(s)/Pairing: Kamichika Rio. Orihara Izaya. Ryuugamine Mikado. Sonohara Anri. Heiwajima Shizuo. Celty Sturluson. Eventual Izaya/Rio (IzaRio)

Genre: General/Angst/Drama/Romance

Rating: R/M for psychological and philosophical themes and eventually quite a bit of sexuality.

Warnings: Manipulation, plotting, blackmail for now. Later on, though…there will be worse.

Summary: For most people, life had a way of turning out fine eventually. For Rio, life was full of her own mistakes. Or so she thought. [Eventual and gradual Izaya/Rio]

"You know me now,

But to do better than that,

You've got to follow me.

[girl], I'm tryin' to show you

where I'm at."

—"Hey Pretty" by Poe

A/N: Dedicated, again, especially to Renn-kun and eclats_de_voix. May the odds forever be in thy favor, for the darkness of IzaRio is ever an intrigue, isn't it? ;)

Chapter 3: A Game Fit For Kings

It was a fight for her life.

Rio bit on her lower lip tentatively, then slipped into a stance that made it easier for her in case she needed to run. The fact remains that she is now alone with a twenty-something-year-old man she couldn't trust in a subway car traveling to her district hometown.

Said situation was already enough to raise red flags. Unfortunately, this man was also quite dangerous, given that he almost pulled her over the edge of a building once and had laughed in joy as he held her over the area of her supposed demise. She didn't know what she could do about this, but the fact remains that he now wants something from her, and chances were very likely that it wasn't good.

Chances were even higher that it would involve something illegal, dangerous or against her favor in terrible ways.


She would have to refuse. Saying otherwise would extract from her a promise, and Nakura-san, or whoever his actual name was, was not likely to let it go easily.

He was, after all, a man who played with humans and laughed at them for their foolishness.

"No? Ah…I see you aren't likely to agree to sit down with me, hm? Well, then…" Nakura sighed dramatically—as though he was actually being a normal stranger with good intentions—then pulled out something that she never in a million years would have anticipated.

A blade. What's more, one that flipped out from the button on the handle. A switchblade.

Damn it. Damn it!

Rio felt her eyes widen at the sight of the glint on the blade, then glanced up slowly at the man holding it towards her. What could she do? She needed to get out of here, and fast.

She didn't want to hang around a person who could potentially hurt and kill her and throw the body in the river. Worse, she didn't know how to deal with weapons. Her training in Aikido did teach her how to disarm people with hands only, but close-range weapons were a completely different thing altogether for someone like her, who barely trained for a year and a half. She wasn't even a yellow belt yet.

A blade like that could potentially be lethal if used correctly.

And if he can hold it like that, it meant he had absolutely no problems killing her right on the spot. Damn skilled, alright.

Nakura then pulled his other hand up and began to trail the forefinger along the edge of the blade, with his smile now pulled upwards into a terrifying psychotic grin. "You may be quite the fighter amongst most girls your age, that I know…but, you should keep in mind that I am not exactly the kind of person who just sits around, either. Being an information broker tells me about all this, after all." He stopped for a moment at the tip of the blade, then turned the blade the other direction and pointed it against her neck, right on the pulse. "Besides…I think you might be underestimating me to think you can run away."

Rio froze, and realized then that he had backed and cornered her against the wall, even as she was holding her circle stance. No…no…this wasn't supposed to happen.

How could she have been so blind to the fact that he could fight as well?

Nakura sighed pretentiously, then lowered his face to hers until they were eye-to-eye.

"So…Kamichika Rio-chan. How about you listen to what I have to say, THEN give me your answer and take your leave?"

Rio felt her eyes narrow at the pet name. He knew who she was! "How about you let me go and speak to me on more civil terms?"

"Ah, but you see…the minute I let you go, you would run away and not even bother to listen, right? I mean…you already were planning on running away, and I was sad. So, I decided to pretty much keep you here so that you would at least listen, right?"

"First tell me HOW you know my name and why you are talking to me in the first place."

Nakura-san laughed. "Well, well. So, you have changed a bit more than I had suspected. The fact that you now realize the situation you are in makes it quite interesting in ways. As for your name…" he smirked, then stated plainly, "It only took a bit of information gathering on your profiles in the internet address arena to find your real identity. Tis funny how easy that was!"

Rio felt her insides twist at this. Good heavens, he actually could find out things about her so easily!

Nakura then feigned shock at her subtle, yet furious, expression. "Oh, my, my…my Rio-chan doesn't realize how big the world is, does she? There are so many ways of hacking and finding and filtering information on the web and in the online world. The thing is, Rio-chan, you made yourself stand out. The fact that you did so well in school like that made it all too easy to track you down. Though…admittedly, I knew exactly who you were even before then."

Rio bit on her lip and turned away silently. Seeing this, Nakura chuckled and continued with his purpose.

"Anyways, I'm here because I have a few favors to ask from you and something to offer. I want you to use your influence and knowledge from attending Raira Academy to find information for me about the other students and how they are doing. Not to mention…I want you to do a few things for me while at the school when I ask for it."

Rio flinched. So, it really WAS something that couldn't be good. Damn it. "What exactly do you want me to tell you?" she asked, sullenly.

"Ah…good question. Just about anything that is interesting or different about the going-ons in the school, especially concerning a few classmates of yours. Namely…these two."

Rio felt her eyes widen slightly as she took the pictures that he held out. Wait…didn't she know them? Ryuugamine Mikado and Sonohara Anri? What was going on?

"Ah, that's good! You know them." He clapped playfully, like a sadistic predator that would tear it's prey's body apart for fun before feasting. "In return, I will offer you anything you would like. Anything that is within reasonable terms on my part, at the very least."

Rio closed her eyes angrily. She can't. She couldn't do this, and she didn't want anything from this man. What's more, Ryuugamine-san and Sonohara-san are good people. Why…why did this have to happen? What was going on?

"I'll give you until two days afterwards to decide, on Sunday." He cheerfully places a card with a phone number and email into her hands, almost enthusiastically—if it wasn't for the gravity of the situation. "Before then…it is probably best not to tell anyone about this dealing." He smiled darkly. "No one would believe, after all, that Kamichika Rio, the model student of Raira Academy, is being harassed by an underground informant who loves humans."

Rio winced. She had fallen straight into his trap by making herself stand out. Good heavens, if she had known about this before…if she had known what she was dealing with…

She would have simply tried to blend in instead of proving him wrong. This was worse than anything she could prepare for.

The young man's expression immediately changed to a light-hearted happy smile and then realized something else. "Oh, I should also mention…don't even think about telling anyone that you know me. After all, an idol student at the school can easily end up with black marks on her reputation if she were to be known to hang out with the likes of yakuza informants. Keep in mind, Rio-chan…" he grinned manically as he placed his finger under her chin, "I can control your world just as easily as I can enter your life like this."

The last words were spoken near her left ear, and she felt his teasing whisper against her skin. Rio flinched at the unwelcome, sickening warmth from it and the turbulent emotions in her stomach, then felt a jerk from near the front, and realized then that the train had stopped at a place near Shinjuku.

Nakura, evidently satisfied at having made his point across, glanced at her with a sunny expression, then pulled back from leaning over her and began to walk towards the door. She didn't know what to expect, until Nakura began to exit the subway car.


The man turned his head towards her, with a most happy smile on his face. "Oh? Already decided, I see?"

"No!" Rio shouted, then glared. "It's just that I don't know your name!"

The man then paused, and glanced skywards as though he had realized something particularly intriguing. He then turned towards her, and backed out of the door, but not before leaving behind a most predatory smile.

"Orihara Izaya."

Rio ran like the wind out of the station and down the street towards her house. She knew that it was only a matter of time before she could reach where she wanted to go, but the feeling she had in her heart was that of a black lump of lead that she couldn't get out, no matter what she did.

No matter how fast she ran home, she never felt that she was able to get there fast enough.

She needed a bath, and time to clear her head. The sooner the better.

Rio felt her shoulders tremble as she opened and close the door, ran through the living room and up the stairs to where the bathroom was, right next to the door of her own room. Her shoulders trembled even more when she closed and locked the door behind her and savagely pulled her outfit off and threw the clothes onto the counter. She needed to wash those, and soon. She didn't want Nakura—Izaya's—scent to linger anymore on them, because she wanted to forget the whole thing. She also didn't want anything that Izaya left on her secretly—whether they be small cameras to spy on her or so forth.

This wasn't happening. This wasn't happening. This wasn't happening…

Her trembling intensified as she turned on the hot water, and her hands held on to the handles near the bath for dear life—as though she was being pulled under by a wild-eyed monster. She glanced into her reflection in the water, and noted that the girl had a stunned expression, as though she had just been hit by something catastrophic.

It was real.

It was real, and there was nothing she could do about it.

All her hopes and dreams didn't matter, not anymore.

Because of her foolish hopes of changing herself, she has become a tool to a man named Orihara Izaya, and nothing she knows or does can change that now.

She began to scream, each wail and sob heaving her entire form and tearing all her hope and dreams apart like cracks in the mirror covered with blood. Her body trembled in fear, and her hands burned from gripping on the handles so hard until her knuckles turned white. The surroundings blurred around her as hot tears flowed out of her eyes, but she couldn't bring herself to care.

Rio didn't leave the bathroom until after dinner that day, and made up an excuse to go to bed early.

The sunlight of the afternoon didn't register to Rio until she noticed the light pour in through the curtains of her bed. It seemed that she was now way too late for studying anything, and it was almost as though the entire situation in the subway had been a dream.

Rio coughed, and began to sneeze. Damn…

"Rio-chan. Stay put, alright? Your forehead has been burning over a hundred all day."

Rio blinked at the figure near the door that had brought a pan of water and some medicine. "Mom?"

"Yes, Rio-chan?"

"What happened?"

"You got pretty sick from staying in the bathroom for too long. I don't want to complain or anything, since you have been more stressed than usual yesterday, but…taking long baths is not a good habit."

"Ah…I see." Rio nodded hesitantly.

"By the way, Rio, you have schoolmates visiting you today."

Rio blinked as her eyes widened at the sound of the word. "Schoolmates?"

"Yes. Ryuugamine-san and Sonohara-san. They heard you got sick, so they came to visit."

Ah…them. Rio felt calmer at the sound of the names, then briefly remembered what Izaya had stated to her. She flinched.

Seeing her worried expression, her mother stopped taking her temperature and said, "Rio-chan, do you want to see them?"

Rio thought for a moment. If she were to see them, she might endanger them with their situation by being given information on their status, but if she didn't see them, they might suspect something was wrong and end up confronting her anyways.

Probably better to see them.

That ways, if she could, she might even be able to warn them beforehand about that man…

This was, after all, a way to tell them about the truth without letting Izaya know. The two of them had shown up, after all, and Izaya wasn't able to control what she said to them here. He didn't have any cameras on her, as far as she had checked yesterday.

"Yeah. I would like to see them, mom."

Her mother's concerned expression softened at her confident words, and she swore she could see a smile reaching her parent's eyes. "Alright, then."

Rio nodded, then slowly got up. With her mother's help, she washed her face with cold water and dressed herself up. She didn't want to make a bad impression on the others for being messy, but she didn't want to look like she was attending something formal.

In the end, Rio decided to go for something simple and wore a sunset hued skirt with her usual small heels and a light sky-blue puffed-sleeve top.

There. That ways, she didn't have to worry about seeming too shabby.

Ryuugamine Mikado and Sonohara Anri were sitting in the living room with tea at the table when she slowly walked out, but the moment the two of them saw her, both of them stood up and made room for her to sit on the sofas. Rio hesitantly smiled, knowing how awkward it was to be sick at a time like this, but then schooled herself to bow to the other two. She felt slightly reassured when Mikado and Anri smiled back at her a little and returned the gesture.

It seems that they didn't mind her awkwardness.

"Ryuugamine-san. Sonohara-san. It's a pleasure to see you both."

"Oh! No, no…I—it's a pleasure to see you today, Kamichika-san," the earnest boy named Ryuugamine Mikado said quickly, "I…I hope we aren't intruding on anything."

Rio nodded calmly at him. He was really a genuine and kind person. Why Izaya wanted her to spy on him, she didn't know. "You aren't intruding on anything, Ryuugamine-san. I don't mind either of you visiting at all."

"A—ah. A—anyways, Kamichika-san, we are here to see how you are doing, since we were worried…and to ask for a favor."

Rio blinked at the last few words, sipped her tea, then spoke, "I…I think I have something to say to the two of you, as well."

Mikado blinked, then nodded at her. "Ah…well…you go first."

"No, it's alright, really." Rio smiled slightly. "I don't mind listening first."

Mikado hesitantly glanced at Anri, who nodded at him calmly, then spoke a bit hesitantly. "Anri and I…would like to ask you to study with us for the next project."

Oh. That one. The most recent project that required groups between classes. The two of them really were too genuine for their own good.

Rio felt herself smile, this time more openly. "I accept. I would love to work with Ryuugamine-san and Sonohara-san."

"R—really? That's good." Mikado smiled happily, then blushed embarrassedly at himself for making such a comment. "So…what is it that you wish to tell us?"

Rio paused, then hesitated. It's now or never. "Well…it's just…I think this might be a bit difficult to say…"

"Oh…" Mikado blinked, then nodded, "It's alright. Sonohara-san and I are willing to listen."

"I've been…" Rio bit on her lip. She knew that she needed to tell them that they were in danger. If they didn't find out, it meant that she would have no choice but to tell things to Izaya-san and that would make her feel more guilty than anything. What's more, she felt that the two people in front of her were trustworthy and decent.

She could not stand by and let them be in any more danger. This was her problem.

How should she begin this? She then stated hesitantly, "…I've been threatened by someone."

Her words must have had an effect, because Mikado's and Anri's eyes immediately widened, and Mikado immediately stood up. "What? But…who…"

Rio bit on her lip nervously, then spoke, hands clenching on the table until her knuckles became white, "Someone dangerous."

Her tenseness didn't go unnoticed by the two of them. Anri was, surprisingly, the first person to speak afterwards. "Is this person at our school?"

Rio shook her head. "He doesn't attend our school. But…he's been asking for information on the two of you from me."

Mikado jumped. "W—what? B—but, who? Who is this guy?"

Rio bit on her lip nervously. There was no easy way around this, but she had to say it in a way so that the two of them would understand and listen. "That's why I want you two to know. So that the two of you will be careful. This guy…he is trying to blackmail me into doing things for him at school. He threatened to destroy me if I told anyone. However…" she paused, "…that's not the only reason why I'm worried."

Anri leaned forward and nodded at her. "I see…what is he like?"

"He's dark-haired, red-eyed and kinda tall. Somewhat on the thin side. He seems to have fun with hurting people. I don't know for sure," Rio paused, somewhat relieved that the two of them actually believed her for telling the truth, then stated, "but I think he has something to do with the yakuza. He's supposedly an informant."

"Is his name Orihara Izaya?"

Rio felt her eyes widen at the name. "How did you know…"

Mikado glanced at her immediately, and Rio felt a chill go down her spine as she saw his expression. "So, it IS him."

Rio blinked confusedly, then asked a question that she wasn't sure she should ask. "Did he mess with the two of you as well?"

Anri nodded solemnly. "I…guess you can say that. He seems to like to cause a lot of problems for people, Izaya-san."

"If that's the case, then why didn't you report him to the police?"

Mikado bit on his lip and guiltily glanced at her. "He's not someone any of us can capture easily. I mean…there is no concrete evidence against him. Not that I know any, that is."

Rio sighed, as though she was emotionally exhausted. "If that's the case…I don't know what to do about this…I don't think I can let him know that I told you this, either. He told me not to say anything, but…I didn't want you to not know this."

Mikado and Anri glanced at her sympathetically, and Rio cursed herself for dragging the two of them into the situation. What good did it do for her to tell them that they are in danger? She had dragged them into a problem that was supposedly hers, and only her responsibility. She shouldn't have done this. She should own the problem and live the consequences and move on. She probably might risk a lot for telling them all this, too, or even risk their lives for this situation.

Her expression must have been particularly gloomy to Anri, for the other girl then said something that she would never have expected to hear. "I…I think I know two people who might help us with this problem."

Mikado glanced at Anri, as though he hoped for an answer that might be good. "Who?"

"…Heiwajima Shizuo-san and Celty-san."

"Heiwajima-san?" Mikado couldn't believe his ears. "Celty-san, I can understand, but…Heiwajima Shizuo-san?"

He must have sounded very surprised, because Anri glanced at him hesitantly, and spoke. "Um…Heiwajima-san, I admit, may seem dangerous, but…I think he is also considerate enough. That and…he knows how to deal with Izaya-san one-on-one, unlike the rest of us."

"Yeah, but…" Mikado glanced at Kamichika-san from the side. "I don't know if he might endanger Kamichika-san."

Anri bit on her lip nervously, and Mikado felt guilty at that moment for making her feel conflicted with the unusual idea. "True…"

"W—well, it's probably better to try than not to try, right?" Mikado said. "I mean, I think Kamichika-san needs all the help she can get for this kind of situation."


Mikado then turned to Kamichika-san, and nodded to her. "We will help you with this situation as well. In regards to dealing with Izaya-san…I think asking Celty-san and Heiwajima-san actually is a good idea. As for telling us your situation…Anri and I won't say anything."

Their determination must have helped bolster her confidence, because Kamichika-san blinked in surprise at him, then smiled genuinely at him and Anri. "I…thank you. Thank you for all this."

Before he knew it, Anri had smiled back at Kamichika-san, and he felt himself stop breathing when he noticed how genuine the two were surprisingly being at that moment. "No problem."

Dang…he was never going to understand how those two understood each other so well, but…at least he was helping.

The next two hours were spent on talking about the next project they had at school, but Mikado felt that Kamichika-san's spirits had brightened up greatly, and he couldn't help feel proud of himself for once for being able to help.

The early evening air was much cooler than she had expected, but Rio had managed to bring a nice coat to ensure that she didn't freeze to death as she walked to the designated meeting place near the fountain in the middle of Ikebukuro. She knew that it wasn't going to be easy meeting Celty-san or Heiwajima-san, but she knew that she needed their help badly.

If she didn't resolve this problem, her entire world would end as she knew it.

The description that Mikado and Anri had given her, though, were a bit startling.

She had not known that Celty-san was the Black Rider.

Heiwajima-san, though, was even more startling. A tall, full-grown man who dyed his hair blonde and wore sunglasses and bartender clothing was not someone she would expect to be around in the streets of Ikebukuro at this time. Most people didn't dress like that out here as a fashion statement.

Or was it a fashion statement? From what she heard, Heiwajima Shizuo was a terrifyingly dangerous man, and identified himself with those factors that Anri had told her.

She thought she heard a sound like a horse neighing in the distance, and before she knew it, the Black Rider had shown up with a tall man matching the description Anri and Mikado had given her sitting on the back seat.

The man then stood and pulled his right leg over the seat to the other side and stood up on the left side of the motorcycle. The Black Rider, in the meantime, then took out her Memo, and started the conversation off for the three of them.

"Hi. It's been a while. Anyways…you are Kamichika Rio-san?"

Rio nodded.

"Hmph. Looks like that louse is causing trouble again, isn't he?"

It was one thing to see someone in person. It was another, Rio found, to see a seemingly normal man knock down a large lamppost from the side of the street with one swing of his arm.

"Shizuo, I don't think you want to scare the poor girl."

"Oh…" Heiwajima-san blinked, then took up and placed the lamppost carefully into the ground with his hands as though it was made of putty. "Sorry."

Rio blinked confusedly, then bowed deeply to both of them. "Um…It's alright. Thank you so much for coming out here to listen to me, and…I apologize for any inconvenience this situation would cause you both."

Heiwajima Shizuo took a drag from his cigarette and nodded at her. "It's no problem."

"It's no trouble at all, Rio-san. Your situation is making a mess of your life, and I think we all need to figure out how to resolve this scenario without causing you more problems."

"Yeah. I…I really don't understand why, but…it seems that he wants information on Sonohara-san and Ryuugamine-san for some reason."

For a moment, Rio noticed that the Black Rider—named Celty Sturluson—was silent at the mention of what the high schooler had been told to do by Izaya-san, then began typing again on her Memo.

"That…er, has to do with Mikado and Anri-chan's personal situations. They kind of have some complications that were difficult to share even amongst themselves, much less amongst others. I don't think I have the right to share about what their situations are, but…I think they will tell you eventually about that."

Rio blinked. Trouble for them as well? She then recalled how Anri had told her about the fact that Izaya had messed with her and Mikado as well. Whatever they seemed to have dealt with, it seemed pretty bad. "Oh. It's troubling, though. I told them about the situation, but I hope he doesn't find out and make things worse for the two of them."

Shizuo sighed. "So…that damn flea is trying to stir things up with blackmailing people nearby this time? But…why did he target you personally?"

Rio winced. This was going to be embarrassing to say. "He…he got to know me once by pretending to befriend me online and asked me to talk to him in real life."

"Ah." The man's features darkened a bit at her words. "And he knows that you attend Raira Academy as well as the other two. Not to mention that you stand out at the school…dang, it is probably going to be a major pain in the neck if he shows up and smears your reputation."

Rio blinked confusedly. Wow, for someone who she just met, he was really very perceptive. "Um…Heiwajima-san, how did you know that?"

The blond-haired man blinked as he realized her surprise, then adjusted his sunglasses. "I've read from the newspaper about your scores in the National Math Contests once. That and…I've known that flea ever since I've attended high school with him. It's no surprise to me that he would do something like that."


"Anyways, we need to come up with a plan to find out what Izaya-san is doing. Otherwise, if we continue like this, Rio-san might end up having to bear the brunt of the problems."

"True." Shizuo sighed as he glanced at the sky for a moment, then turned towards Rio. "I know that this might be a strange idea, but…you might want to be careful with what you do around most others from now on. Knowing that louse, he will definitely send people after you, even now." He glanced around, as though he was searching through the crowds for anyone suspicious. Satisfied that there were no suspicious-looking gangsters around, he then turned back to her. "He isn't someone who will just sit and wait for you to talk to him. I wouldn't be surprised if he forces you to go to him."

"A—ah. Understood…" Rio nodded timidly. She really didn't know what else to say to this person, this guy who was capable of pulling street signs out of the ground with his bare hands.

The man blinked at her for a second, as though he was thinking of all the coming disasters that were going to show up at her door, then glanced at her sympathetically. "You're probably going to be dealing with a lot of unwanted problems from now on, so I suggest that you hold your head up high and don't take any of the crap he sends you. I know that it can get pretty bad eventually with that flea trying to wreck your life and all, but…it isn't going to help if you stay quiet about what he does. I also recommend that you find out how to not let him trick you into anything." He then nodded to her approvingly, "You're a brave girl for even telling us about all this in the first place. Keep it up, and don't listen to anyone who tells you otherwise."

"Exactly. Rio-san, if anything, I have to hand it to you to be able to talk openly about this. It's not often that people will accept what others tell them in a situation like this, but…for you to attempt being open about your situation, it's very courageous."

Rio blushed at their words. "…thank you."

"And if you need either or both of us to help, don't be afraid to ask." Shizuo nodded to her. "I think that Ryuugamine kid…and that other person—what was her name again—will also help out."

"Oh. I think her name was Sonohara Anri."

"Oh. Sorry. I'm terrible with remembering names." Shizuo scratched his head a bit awkwardly.

Rio felt herself smile openly at their words and bowed deeply. "Thank you so much. I can't thank you both enough."

"You're welcome."

"No problem, Rio-san. Just give us both a call if you really need to. Either that, or we'll call you up if we come up with a plan, or if there seems to be anything wrong."

Rio smiled brightly, then bowed again to both of them and walked back towards her house with their numbers on her cell phone. It was a cold evening, but for some reason, she felt happier than she had expected herself to be.

It was nice to get to know people who are so kind and genuine.

Shizuo stared in the direction that the girl went, as though he was considering all the problems that she might deal with, then finally spoke. "She might need some major help with this."

"True. Though…we might have to figure out what Izaya is planning with trying to set up spies near Anri-chan and Mikado."

"And chances are that it might end up with something like that incident with the Yellow Scarves, or whatever they were called, or worse." Shizuo crossed his arms as he thought about a few solutions. "She might have to face him, anyways, if he chooses to confront her, and that may spell trouble. I just hope she can hold her ground against that louse."

"Agreed. She's barely past high school, bright as she is. Not many people at that age can outwit an adult like Izaya-san. Also, Mikado is not exactly at a point where he can deal with Izaya as well, even though he's capable. Anri can fight very nicely, but…she is also in the same year." Celty stopped for a moment, then kept typing. "Shinra would definitely provide some information on what may be going on as well, but…he has a lot to do these days."

"True. If anything, I'll probably have to trail that louse on my off times through what people can tell me. Or maybe find out from a few people I know on what he might be looking for these days."

"That is definitely an idea. Nowadays, we aren't sure of what he might be doing."

"Might want to look into the legends or myths about what he might be searching for. He could very well be playing off of something supernatural again, just like that Slasher incident in the park. Then, there's the issue with what that louse wants with Ryuugamine and Sonohara. If he finds out that they know he's spying on them, he will most certainly retaliate on them, as well as Kamichika-san. Especially her."

"Which means we all have to be silent about this to people who won't understand or help us."


For a moment, Shizuo swore that Celty looked more anxious than any human expression could give off, then as though she thought of something, the dullahan began to type on her Memo again. "Let's just hope that she doesn't do anything that he can take advantage of easily."

For the first time in her life, Rio wondered whether it was like this to have real friends. Friends were individuals who one could share things with, people who you could tell a lot of things to.

Friends who could come up with ideas on how to deal with a problem.

"…You're probably going to be dealing with a lot of unwanted problems from now on, so I suggest that you hold your head up high and don't take any of the crap he sends you. I know that it can get pretty bad eventually with that flea trying to wreck your life and all, but…it isn't going to help if you stay quiet about what he does. I also recommend that you find out how to not let him trick you into anything."

Rio's features darkened a bit. So that means Izaya had messed with Heiwajima-san before, as well as Celty-san. What's more, it made sense that the problem she was facing likely needed more awareness and capacity towards being watchful and determination not to break.

So, it meant that she would need to be careful with sharing information with others, with the exception of four people in particular and others who might help her with the situation.

For some reason, she felt that she could have spoken as well to Masaomi Kida if she had wished, but the fact remains that said guy had left the school sometime ago. Though, if he hadn't, it wouldn't have surprised her if he had listened.

He was strangely honest in his ways, despite being a vivacious and energetic flirt who told bad jokes.

Rio paused for a second. If Mikado and Anri were in danger, then chances were that they were linked to something big and a major trouble to deal with. From the last time she could recall, there was a situation that had, in particular, made her suspicious of what was going on in Ikebukuro.

She and a couple of other friends had been captured by a group of people claiming to be Dollars, then saved by other members of the Dollar Gang.

Sonohara Anri was also near the area, and held and fought with a katana in her hands of all things.

What's more, there had been a lot of fighting, and a young man named Chikage, someone who she had heard was supposedly a gang leader from a rather faraway district in Tokyo, had shown up for some reason.

It was serious, and she would need to find a means to help the situation. She didn't know what she could do, but she needed to be of some use to the people who were maintaining the peace.

What's worse, it seemed that Izaya could be involved. Last time she recalled, the man had stated that he was a yakuza informant. And there had been REAL yakuza involved in the mess of that most recent riot in Ikebukuro.

Either way, she had to make sure that he didn't find out about the fact that she had said anything to her two schoolmates. If she wanted to do that, she would have to ensure that she kept a certain distance away from Ryuugamine-san and Sonohara-san in public, and at the same time seem to attempt to look after what they were into. Mikado and Anri had told her about what she could do with this sort of act a few hours ago, and yet all of them knew that they couldn't do more than that without knowing exactly what Izaya was planning.

It was just as Celty-san had said. Izaya was planning something, and she wanted to make sure he didn't cause any more trouble than he already had.

She would take this into her own hands…she would have to find the responsibility to resolve her own mistakes and defend the people who had just helped her.

She knew that it wasn't going to be easy, but the thing was that Izaya had blackmailed her. If he were to know that his plan for that had failed, he would most certainly retaliate. If he plans to retaliate, then she would have to make sure that he doesn't retaliate on anyone else other than herself.

She, after all, was the one who made the mistake of meeting him in the first place.

She was the one who believed and trusted him at one time.

She would have to fight him, but she knew that she needed to find a way to deal with him one-on-one. She needed to figure out how he does his planning, what exactly he is after, and what she can do to prevent him from hurting everyone else.

She didn't care so much about being hurt herself, but she not let him do anything to Mikado, Anri, Heiwajima-san and Celty-san.

The last thing they needed was someone who plotted against them in their lives.

Rio thought for a moment, then picked up the card given to her on the subway and dialed the number on her cell phone. After two rings, the other person picked up.

"Why, hello! Glad to have your business." Just the sound of the cheerful, familiar voice of the man she once called Nakura made her wince.

Rio braced herself. "Orihara Izaya-san," she said quietly.

"Oh? Rio-chan, I see…" She could practically see him smile deviously on the other side. For that, she was glad that she wasn't looking at him face-to-face.

"I…I want to make a deal."

Immediately, her stomach churned at the thought that she was actually hearing him. Still, decisions were decisions, and she would have to do this.

"Oh? I see that you have decided—"

"However, I want to change and add a few conditions."

To protect Mikado and Anri. And Heiwajima Shizuo and Miss Celty and others.

To protect the people who were willing to help her deal with this problem, even if she would never oblige them to do so.

"Hm…What made you change your mind, Rio-chan?"

So, he was thinking about what she was planning.

Rio took a deep breath, and then spoke. "About that…I want to meet you in person to talk about this matter."

"Hey pretty,

Don't 'cha wanna

Take a ride with me?

Feel my world?

Hey pretty,

My pretty baby."

—"Hey Pretty" by Poe