There were pitfalls to piecing a notion of self out of others' impressions, dismissing the past altogether or embracing it wholesale were equally dangerous. This Izaya knew very well. His adopted method of finding some continuity but allowing himself the possibility of change suited him much better and was something of a compromise and as such comforting but it posed all sorts of challenges.

It demanded great flexibility of action and an ever active self-appraisal. Even when Izaya acted impulsively he afterwards reflected at length in an effort to reach a sense of balance.

This balance was a fragile construction built on sheer strength of will, an achievement on which Izaya's peace of mind rested. Not always consciously, Izaya was constantly engaged in sustaining it. Izaya saw it as his one means of fighting against his past self for he could not shake the feelings that the odd hallucination was simply biding its time.

And Izaya had vowed to be prepared when the time came.

The sun drifted greenly through tree leaves as Izaya placed a pillow on the bench and helped Saki sit down. She adjusted the hat, the pink ribbon catching a glint of light.

"Nice and comfy?"

"Very. Do be careful, Orihara-san."

Izaya smiled brightly.

"It should be alright. They say you never forget how to ride a bike, I already put that logic to the test with swimming and it turns out the truism was true in that case."

Izaya had taken Saki to Ueno park where they were not likely to run into any acquaintance. It was also a wonderful excuse for taking Saki on a much deserved outing. He regarded the bicycle clinically.

"Still, there is no telling until you actually try it."

"Aye, experience is the mother of all knowledge. Here goes nothing, wish me luck."

The moment his feet made contact with the pedals Izaya knew that he could indeed still ride. His body went through the motions as if driven by some physical memory.

"Way to go, Orihara-san."

"Look, no hands! Heh, this is fun!"

Izaya pedaled in a series of loose loops, dashing between soft shadow into warm spots of sun.

"Don't let go of the handle,"

The note of distress in Saki's voice had him alight and sit next to her.

"I just had a great idea! Let's get one of those double seat bicycles and explore the city together once you're back on your feet. How fun will it be!"

It was Izaya's way of projecting a normal future for Saki, by making it seem matter of fact. By taking it for granted he made it more real.

"I would like that."

"And now, it is zoo time! Behold, I got us tickets."

Izaya produced the tickets and smiled brightly behind them.

"For real?"

"Of course! Let us go, fluffy critters await!"

Izaya helped her to the wheelchair, ever so gently.

"I didn't know you were into animals, Orihara-san. Aren't humans your one true love?"

Izaya giggled and wheeled her toward the zoo.

"Technically speaking, human beings are animals as well. To be more specific we are classified as Homo Sapiens: kingdom Animalia, phylum Chordate, class Mammalia, order Primates, family Hominidae, tribe Homini, genus Homo, species Homo Sapiens."

"Let us hope they won't put people into zoos, then."

"There was a poor pygmy by the name of Ota Benga who was kept in a zoo in the States in the early 20th century."

Saki turned around on her chair, eyes wide with dismay.

"Really? A person living in a cage?"

"In the monkey house, to be more precise. It goes to show that humans are their worst when they deny their fellow humans' humanity. It seems to be perquisite to racism and genocide and is probably at the root of all hate crime if one digs deep enough. The holocaust was only possible because certain types of humans were deemed less than human."

They had made their way into the zoo compound and Izaya made his way through the throng until he stopped next to the flamingos. He had no particular reason to pick this place but had simply wheeled the chair randomly enough. As it so often happened his thoughts occupied him more than his surroundings.