My life has always been surrounded by pretense and lies. Now for the first time, I want to unravel those lies... to get my revenge. ShizuoxOC A story written just for fun, not to be taken too seriously, but hopefully capable of getting a few laughs out of you with a side of suspense. It might contain some cheesy fluff, but like I said, it's all for fun, so feel free to point and laugh.

xoxox xox xoxox

Another Puzzle Piece

Chapter 1: Pretence

I log into the Dollars website as I always do when I have nothing else to occupy me in the evening. Today it seems only Kanra is online. I chat with her often; she seems to be in on all the gossip about the headless rider and the like. Of course, all of that takes place in Ikebukuro, not in my home town. As always, Kanra tells me I should move there, as always, I tell her I'll think about it. The other Dollars also encourage me to move to the city, especially when I tell them I'm tired of my life here. I assume they must think I'm bored, but in truth, what I'm tired of is my brother's gang, which seems to get into worse trouble everyday.

My life is surrounded by pretense and lies. When I was eleven and my brother fourteen, he started getting involved with gangs. Two years later, he left the house and only came by every now and then. My parents were always angry at him, but he always smiled at me, treated me kindly and gave me gifts. I knew the gifts were stolen, but I still appreciated that he thought of me. I would always pack a meal for him, so that I could at least have something to give him. My brother was always very cool and I admired him a lot.

One day when I was fifteen, I locked myself in my room after an argument with my parents. My brother had not come to visit for a while and I missed him terribly. He was the only one who understood me. Then I heard screams, but I didn't go see what it was about. I locked myself in my room fearing for my life, until once again, there was silence.

The minutes dragged on eternally and I heard my brother's voice at my door. I opened it and hugged him, so relieved to see him, even if he was covered in blood. He told me that the slasher killed our parents. I knew it was I lie, but I pretended to believe it. I had to; my kind brother was all I had in the world. Thanks to my testimony, the police believe that he had arrived just on time to save me, causing the slasher to run away. This wasn't his usual area and the slasher was only starting to become famous, but they believed it.

One thing that stands out in my mind from that night was when I naively asked my brother if everything would be alright. He smiled and said "of course everything will be alright, everything turned out to be just like he said." He never told me who his informant was and I never dared to press the subject.

That was five years ago, I'm twenty now. Here I am living a peaceful life. My brother became my legal guardian for three years until I was eighteen. He wasn't around much, but I could look after myself. I've always known he's in deep with the gangs, but I always pretend to believe his merciful lies. He's only trying to protect me, he doesn't wish his life upon me. However, he's been coming home injured too often lately and I'm worried that my pretend peaceful life will fall apart.

Maybe I should take Kanra's advice and move to Ikebukuro; maybe I can talk my brother into coming with me. Even if he doesn't agree to come at first, maybe I can go and have him visit, then perhaps the city itself will charm him with her mysteries into staying. Even if he gets into another gang, it can't be as bad as it is now...

xoxox xox xoxox

It has been a week since I moved to Ikebukuro. Secretly, I seek the feeling of safety of being in the city that is rumored to be the headquarters of the Dollars and home of their leader. My brother didn't come, but he promised to visit every week. I had been worried because my brother had not called me at all during the week. When the time came for him to visit, he asked me to meet him at a park. I thought it was odd that he wouldn't just come to my apartment, but I went to meet him anyway.

The park was desolated and dark as it was very late. I saw a man and he noticed my approach. He smiled with my brother's face, but something was off in his expression. I approached him and felt wrong. "Good to see you, little sister." He never called me that before. I hated being treated like a child; one thing that I've always liked about my brother was how he treated me as an equal, even when he was being protective of me.

I was confused, this man had my brother's face, but his voice, expression and the way he carried himself was different. I suppose someone who didn't care for the details would miss it. Someone who wasn't close to him wouldn't know, but I knew. "Who are you? Where's my brother?"

He laughed cruelly, "a sharp one... It's just like he said, you do know too much. Everything is like he said, and just as he advised, I'll have to kill you!"

I had no idea what this man, who had my brother's face but wasn't my brother, was talking about, yet I knew he wouldn't believe me if I denied it. I also knew I couldn't run away, he would shoot me in an instant. I saw my life flash before my eyes. What fate had befallen my brother? I wasn't able to protect him like he protected me. Was I to die so young, with so many doubts?

Then something unexpected happened. It was something that was perhaps destined to occur, yet I never would have guessed. I loud voice called out in anger, "Izaya!" The man with my brother's face was startled, he aimed his gun ready to shoot me and make his escape. A knife flew out of nowhere and stabbed into his chest, piercing his heart and making him drop the weapon. The man who stole my brother's face and threatened to kill me fell dead, with a growing puddle of blood around him.

I tried to get away, but in my haste I stumbled and fell backwards as the dead man fell forward, his heavy torso trapping my legs under its weight and soaking my jeans in blood. I pushed him away, noticing his vitals were completely gone. As I finally freed myself, a vending machine flew out of nowhere accompanied by that same echoing voice that sounded closer, "Izaya!" The vending machine crushed the fresh corpse, covering it completely and making his blood further shoot out of the wound that perforated his chest. If I had taken a moment longer, it would be my legs under the vending machine.

I wasn't injured beyond a few scratches from falling on the ground. It was nothing serious, but my legs were covered in blood, my jeans becoming a deep crimson. I was frightened out of my mind by the time the blond man made his arrival on the scene still screaming in anger, "Izaya! Where did you go?" Apparently he had lost track of the cause of his anger. I thought I should run, That man seemed dangerous, but I was so shocked I couldn't move, then he saw me.

I looked at his face contorted in absolute terror. "No..." he gasped as if his lungs were left without air. "No!" He was so strong and not long ago he was so angry. Now he looked panicked and sad. He didn't see the corpse under the vending machine, he only saw me. To him it must have looked as if I had been trapped under the machine and just now managed to crawl out half crushed. His eyes met mine, how could he have carried such anger before and such agony now? I couldn't speak; I only looked at him in shock.

He picked me up gently and told me over and over to hold on. He told me not to die; he said he was taking me to the hospital and that I would be alright. He kept apologizing, but I was too shocked to speak. I realized that he must have believe he was the cause of all this. He must have thought he hurt me and knew nothing of the real events that had transpired.

My legs might be a little bruised, but I could walk just fine, the blood all over my jeans wasn't my own. As for my would-be murderer, it was that knife that killed him. Did this man throw that knife too or was it someone else? Maybe the person he was chasing? I didn't see that Izaya.

Then the realization hit me. He was taking me to a hospital, where it wouldn't take too long for the doctors to figure out that I had no bleeding wounds. Then the next question would be where all this blood came from, they might involve the police! I've always been afraid of the police; I always worried that they would take my brother away, if not both of us as criminal and accomplice. I couldn't let him take me to the hospital! "No! Stop! Put me down!" I screamed and scratched at him, but he didn't let me go.

"Shizuo!" The voice of another man called. He was a tall dark skinned man with a peculiar accent. "Why do you carry bloody screaming girl in your arms?"

Before Shizuo could reply, I screeched, "I don't want to go to the hospital!"

"Maybe she's afraid of doctor," the man with the Russian accent theorized.

Then a person riding a black motorcycle stopped near us. I could tell it was a woman given the tight outfit she was wearing, but her face was hidden under a yellow and blue helmet with cat ears. She held up a high tech cell phone with a message on its screen. "What's going on? I heard screaming and came to see."

"I have no time for this, she's dying!" Shizuo shouted through the pounding of my fist on his face. What was he, indestructible?

"Let me go! I don't want to go to the hospital!" I insisted.

"She's afraid of doctor," the dark skinned man repeated.

"Enough!" The biker girl held up her written message. Then moved to type in another one, "Simon, get the first aid kit, Shizuo, give her to me, we can't wait any longer to give her first aid!" Though it was just a written message, I could tell that if she spoke her tone would be exasperated and commanding. Then another realization hit me, could this really be the legendary headless rider?

The supposedly headless woman carried me inside the restaurant on the street next to our location and Simon brought over a first aid kit, setting it on a table in the closed restaurant. She shook her helmet at the men, as if telling them to go away. Simon got the message and dragged a protesting Shizuo to the kitchen. "You take care of wounds, Shizuo and I make sushi for fast recovery!"

I breathed seeing as they were no longer taking me to the hospital against my will. "I'm not injured, see?" I hopped to my feet to prove it. "The blood's not even mine."

The woman tilted her helmet to the side in a sign of curiosity and I realized I had said too much. "Um... I guess you want an explanation." Honestly, I would rather be explaining things to these people then to the cops, regardless of how unusual they might seem. "Can I get cleaned up first?"

The mysterious biker girl nodded her helmet and produced another suit much like hers out of thin air, holding it out to me. I stared in shock, while she tilted her helmet to the side again as if asking why I was so surprised. Perhaps she assumed that I knew more than I did, or that I was more extraordinary than I am. Finally getting my body to respond I took the black suit she offered. "Thank you," then I dashed to the door in the corner of the restaurant labeled as being the bathroom. Hopefully, by the time I'm cleaned up and changed, my mind will stop spinning.

To be Continued

xoxox xox xoxox

Another Puzzle Piece

Chapter 2: Lies

I emerged from the bathroom of the Russian sushi restaurant dressed in a black suit much like that which the mysterious woman wore. The fabric looked like black leather, but it was far more comfortable and it somehow felt strong and durable beyond any material I have seen. Simon and Shizuo were still in the kitchen. I could hear Shizuo's complaints about not wanting to make sushi while Simon insisted that he paid attention. The unusual woman in the black suit was waiting for me expectantly. I don't know how I knew she was curious about my story, I just knew... I suppose it would be a logical reaction.

She motioned for me to sit at the table where she was at and I did. I took a deep breath and rather than give her any answers, I gave her questions. "Are you the headless rider?"

She answered me via her cell phone, "I thought you already knew that."

"I'm new around here so I wasn't certain," I replied and shifted uncomfortably. She was certainly unusual, that was proven by her ability to materialize clothing out of nowhere. "Can I?"

Her shoulders slightly rose and slumped as her helmet was slightly tilted forward. It looked like she was sighing at a question that she heard far too often, or maybe a request that was far too predictable. She then removed her helmet and I had to stop myself from screaming. It was true! She really was headless!

She put the helmet back on and I finally found my voice, "that's amazing!" In seconds the shock melted away and the initial hint of fear disappeared. I was in awe; somehow I knew she was a very cool person. She began to type something but I interrupted, "are you with the Dollars? I am too!" She paused her typing and listened. "That's why I came here, my friends from the Dollars always suggested it. Who knows, maybe we have even chatted online sometime."

Perhaps she felt like it was time to get back into topic, or didn't want to reveal her nickname if I asked her. She quickly finished typing a new message and held up the screen for me to read. "What happened to you?"

"Well... I'm not sure of that myself..." My reply was interrupted by loud knocking on the door.

"Open the door! It's the police!" A loud voice resounded along with the pounding on the establishment's front door.

The headless rider sprung to her feet and made a mad dash for the kitchen where her fright was question but not explained. I should have been the one running in fear, but I froze. Then Simon emerged from the kitchen and opened the door while Shizuo, somewhat calmer but still upset, stood a few feet behind him wondering what the police wanted.

"Aha, so you are here!" At first I considered dashing for the nearest window and making a run for it, or hoping that the headless rider's magic suit had the power to turn me invisible, though it didn't seem to actually do anything. Then I realized that the officer was talking to Shizuo, not me.

"Let me guess, more property damage," Shizuo growled in annoyance, he had clearly used up his short supply of patience for the night.

"The charge this time is murder," the officer elaborated, glaring along with his group of officers behind him.

My jaw dropped and Shizuo seemed just as shocked, "what?"

"A man was flattened by a vending machine that witnesses say you threw. That man is now dead," the police officer explained. "The autopsy has not yet determined if-"

"That's not true!" I interrupted, walking over to the door and revealing that I was indeed capable of doing so. "That man didn't die because of the machine, he died because..." because a knife came out of nowhere and stabbed him? I didn't know if Shizuo was the one who threw the knife. More importantly, I didn't know why in the world I was defending him against the scary cops. I keep thinking of his face when he thought he hurt me and how he kept apologizing. He's temperamental, but I don't think he's a bad person. "He committed suicide." My life is surrounded by pretence and lies. Sometimes a believable lie is more useful than a truth that cannot be proven.

"Oh?" The leader officer raised an eyebrow, his attention now focused on me. "Care to elaborate?"

"He stabbed himself with a knife," I rambled. I had to add some background to make it believable. I had to consider every aspect, including an explanation for my presence at the park. He was an acquaintance of mine, when he asked me to meet him; I never thought it would be to give me a final farewell. He stabbed himself through the heart with a knife and died. I ran to him but it was too late. I checked his vitals and he was gone. I was shaken by the entire thing and kind of froze up at the scene. Then a vending machine came flying and crushed him, but he was already dead by then."

"I see," my breath was caught in my throat and I was clearly nervous. I guess they attributed it to me still being frightened by what I witnessed, rather than being frightened by the police. "The fact that you knew about the knife before I mentioned it proves that you indeed witnessed the scene. As I was saying, the autopsy was working to determine that, but it seems it's not needed anymore. I'll need to ask you a few question miss..."

"No," Simon finally spoke, after the shock of the situation wore off. "This girl has bad time tonight, she tired I'm sure. She stay and have sushi, you not ask more questions."

"Yes, please!" I squeaked.

The officer sighed in tired vexation. "I suppose this testimony will suffice. If you could provide your name, that will be all."

I gave him my real name without thinking, it didn't mean anything anyway. My brother and I didn't even have the same lastname anymore. He insisted that I changed it, probably to keep me out of trouble and I did as soon as I was old enough. I watched as the police officer scribbled my name on a notepad followed by 'witnessed suicide of' and my brother's name. That man had his face so why not his ID?

I wondered if my real brother really was dead? Just what was going on with the Orange Avengers? I didn't know what this was about, but I would get revenge somehow. I would uncover the mystery and find my brother, or punish his killer if he wasn't already dead. I have a feeling that whatever happened couldn't have been done by that now dead man alone. My instinct tells me there is much more to be discovered.

After the police finally left, Simon called out, "Celty, it's safe now, they gone!" So she had a name despite not having a head. I suppose it's logical that she has a name, it's just that being nameless seemed so much more mysterious. As Simon walked towards the kitchen in case Celty needed additional reassuring, he placed his hand on Shizuo's shoulder commenting, "don't stare too much."

"What?" Shizuo growled, embarrassed? "I just wanted to know if she really wasn't hurt. He then ignored the chuckling Russian who disappeared into the kitchen and addressed me. "How are you still standing after losing all that blood?"

"This question is coming from a man who can make vending machines fly?" I laughed; it just seemed odd that he would wonder about how illogical my apparent instant recovery is given the oddity of his own nature.

He blinks and gives me a curious look, "adrenaline?"

"No," I confess, "the vending machine didn't actually hit me. What I told the police about the murder not being because of the vending machine was true." I decide its best not to elaborate further about the knife. He could have been the one who threw it and if it really was an accident, I don't want him feeling bad about it. Given the scum that died tonight, whoever threw that knife did society a favor. The only downside to it is that I couldn't question him. I wonder why the police didn't mention the gun? Did someone take it before they arrived? They couldn't have simply missed it... I decide not to overanalyze it. It could have been taken by some random punk that had nothing to do with this anyway.

"Oh... too bad about your friend." Shizuo is clearly feeling awkward as if he doesn't know what to say in this situation and I certainly can't blame him for that.

"It's okay, he was only an acquaintance. I'm more shocked than sad." I wonder if it's wise to reveal more than I already have. Maybe the Dollars can help, but even if the headless rider is part of the Dollars, it doesn't feel like an official request to the Dollars without the veil of anonymity. I know it seems strange, but that's just how the Dollars are, transparent, invisible. Maybe I should stick with the story I told the police for the time being, at least until I know more.

Simon and Celty then emerged from the kitchen with a sushi feast. They set the table as Simon cheerfully declared, "everyone eat sushi and I pay bill this time. You all eat and feel better!"

While we ate sushi some formal introductions were exchanged. Though by indirect means I had already learned their names, Simon suggested a proper introduction. I stuck to my story which I told the police, albeit the entire time Simon gave me a puzzled look. I feel as if he were looking into my very soul, as if he could tell I was troubled and surrounded by lies. Maybe he's perceptive, or maybe I was obvious, but the other two were too caught up in their own worries to notice. Celty was trying to get over her fear of the police and Shizuo was relieved he had not hurt me.

By the time we were done, getting caught up eating and talking, the sun was already coming up and we each had some business to tend to. We parted ways not knowing when our paths would cross again, but I had a feeling it would be soon, or maybe that was just wishful thinking.

xoxox xox xoxox

Despite being tired, I wasted no time and spent the day gathering information. I didn't find much; no one seemed to know about the Orange Avengers. They were more interested in the Yellow Scarves and the Blue Square. I learned many stories about them, some I had heard before and some were new. There was one interesting thing I found out though, so the day wasn't a total waste. There's an information broker in the city called Izaya whom people claim knows everything. He might hold the answer to finding out what happened to my brother. I know that going back to investigate the Orange Avengers on my own is suicide, even more so if I don't know what exactly I'm dealing with.

That piece of information brought up a question. Just who was Izaya and who was Izaya to Shizuo, a mortal enemy maybe? If it was someone who could survive that man's wrath, the mysterious Izaya must be strong and possibly dangerous. But if he held the answers to what I needed to know, I would have to seek him out regardless of what kind of person he is. The difficult part is that even if I've gotten location information from several people, I can't seem to find Izaya. A few times I was told I just missed him. It's almost as if he wants to keep me running around the city. But that's silly, what benefit would he get from avoiding a potential customer?

After a long day, night once again falls and I'm exhausted from being awake for so long. In a half asleep daze I head for my little apartment. It's not the best part of town, but I can't afford anything better right now. Maybe the Dollars will cheer me up, but I'll chat tomorrow, right now, I want to sleep. I'm almost to my building, when I'm suddenly pulled into an alley, a rough hand covering my mouth. I struggle, but I cannot free myself.

The man is wearing an orange band around his arm, I've seen him before, he was part of my brother's gang! "You betrayed your own brother you spoiled sheltered brat! You're going to pay for killing our leader! I'm gonna cut you up till you bleed to death, I'll make you suffer!"

As I struggled helplessly, he attempted to make truth on his threat and stab a knife into my arm. However, the strangely strong black material I was still wearing was not torn. He tried again and again, stabbing the knife into different parts of my body, but it didn't work. I took advantage on his confusion to deliver a solid kick where it would hurt and dashed out of the alley to the building where my apartment was. I knew that the location wasn't a secret, but I just wanted to lock myself in, I didn't know where to run if I tried to run away.

I shut the door and locked it, but I knew I couldn't stay there. I didn't know who to call. My brother couldn't come to my rescue and his gang apparently thought I killed him. Who framed me? Was it the real killer? Clearly, if such false news reached the gang, the mastermind behind these events is still alive out there. What should I do? I have a knife proof suit but I don't want to try my luck on its resistance against bullets if I end up facing another gun in the near future. Besides, my head is unprotected.

As I look around my small apartment hoping that the answer would come to me, my eyes land on my laptop and an idea comes to mind. Though I wasn't there at the time, I remember when the forum was filled with messages about the gang helping a girl who was in danger. Would they come for me if I asked for their help? There was some loud banging on my door. I should have known that lowlife in the alley wasn't alone. There's no time for doubts, the Dollars are my only hope.

To be Continued

xoxox xox xoxox

Another Puzzle Piece

Chapter 3: Transparent

There was no time to waste; the Dollars were my only hope. I logged into the chat and was quite direct. "Help me!" I posted in the name of my alias. This would technically mean revealing myself to the Dollars, no longer being invisible among their kind, but it didn't matter.

"What's wrong?" Taro Tanaka replied on the screen. His answer came quickly, interrupting whatever conversation he and Bakyura might have been having at the time.

"Someone is trying to break into my apartment. I was already in as deep as I could get, but I wasn't about to post my address on the Internet for the world to see. I opened a private chat window with Taro, who was supposed to be the leader of the Dollars and sent him my address.

"I'll send a friend over right away," he assured me before logging off.

A loud bang was heard and the window behind me shattered. I realized that the bullet had pierced the door and with it the lock before flying across the room narrowly missing me. There was nowhere to hide in my tiny apartment, I wasn't even done unpacking. I rushed to the broken window as the man made it inside. I threw it open but I knew it wasn't an option, I lived on the seventh floor, a drop like that could kill me, but staying also could.

"Don't kill yourself before we can kill you," a cruel voice spoke, followed by the cold chuckles of his companions. There were four of them. One was the lowlife from the alley; the other three were also from the Orange Avengers judging by the presence of the color in various forms, a shirt, a headband, a cap. I had only ever seen two of then from afar, hanging out with my brother.

Just when I thought my life was about to end, my thoughts drifted away from revenged and into that night eating sushi and talking. I wouldn't be able to do that again, I would never see my new friends again, I would never see Shizuo. I barely knew him, why was he to be my final thought?

Then suddenly, Celty burst through the very window I was near seconds before. I have no idea how she got up there, but she saved my life, shadows extending from her arms to grab the gun one of my attackers was holding. Another tried to use the same knife against her that had not worked on me, while one of his companions fought with a bat and the last with a crowbar. She disarmed them all easily, wrapping her shadows around them and squeezing the air from their lugs until they passed out.

She then turned to face me as I stood there astonished and held up her cell phone. "You know more than what you told us..." This was a statement rather than a question and the three dots at the end symbolized that she had more thoughts on the matter that she chouse not to reveal.

"I'm sorry," I vowed my head in apology. I didn't know exactly what was going on, but I had hidden what I knew.

She typed something into her phone and I waited to read it, but instead the screen in my still open laptop changed, she was posting at the Dollars website. "She's safe now," Setton informed.

"Why did you?" Why would she reveal her online alias? I wasn't going to tell anyone but, why did she? Was it because she already knew mine that she thought it was only fair? No, there was more to it than that. I typed into the website "thank you," then logged off. "I understand, you're trying to show me trust. I'll tell you the truth, as far as I'm aware of it."

"Not here," Celty communicated.

I nodded and started to pack up what I had unpacked. I glanced at Celty from the corner of my eyes, her posture was slightly tilted to the side, one arm stretched down and the other crossed touching her opposite elbow. "If you're wondering why I'm packing, it's because I know they'll be back so regardless of where you ask me to go, where I go afterwards will not be here."

She nods her helmet and picks up some of my luggage, I only packed what I truly needed, leaving my collection of stolen gifts from my brother behind. I have my laptop, cell phone, clothes, shoes and personal use items such a toothbrush, hairbrush and so on. I didn't even bring my car. I guess that in a sense I wanted to leave as many crimes as possible behind.

I finished packing up the few things that were unpacked and noticed that Celty is out the window, holding my luggage with her shadowy powers. She extends her hand as if telling me to climb out the window and join her on her gravity defying silent black motorcycle. I summon my courage and do, I know she's not going to save me then let me fall. As the motorcycle climbs down from the building wall into the street below, I remember to thank her for the suit without which I'm sure I would have died.

xoxox xox xoxox

Celty took me back to the Russian sushi restaurant where I once again was allowed in past closing time. Shizuo was to my surprise also there, complaining about how he kept looking for Izaya to try to kill him all day and couldn't find him. That makes two of us who couldn't find Izaya, though for different reasons, not that I'm about to mention I was looking for him.

I giggle as I watch Shizuo devour the sushi while Simon, who is returning from opening the door, encourages him to "get all off chest and feel better. You tell Simon everything." With a smile on his face he continues, "but first, say hello to visitors."

Shizuo looks up from his food, swallows and speaks a casual, "hello." I find that I'm greatly relieved that he's not feeling odd around me. We were all talking just fine the night before, but I didn't know if that would last. Taking another mouth full of sushi and downing it with his drink he leans back on his chair with a satisfied stomach. "So, what brings you here?" He inquires of both Celty and I as he casually lights a cigarette which Simon takes away. "Hey!"

"No smoking inside restaurant, you go smoke outside after talking to visitors," Simon insisted and puts out the cigarette.

"It's not even business hours," Shizuo protests, but he doesn't light up another cigarette, instead inviting us to sit down. "So, what's up?"

Celty turns her helmet towards me, "I guess I did say that, didn't I?" I'm referring to my promise to tell her the truth.

"That's interesting," Shizuo comments. "You can read Celty's expressions pretty well. I've known her longer and I can't even do that."

"Really?" I blink, allowing the small distraction. Celty placed her hands on her hips on the chair next to me and I find that I do understand what she's communicating. "Oh I get it, don't change the subject."

Celty places her right hand on the chin of her helmet then bring up her index finger.

"I remind you of someone?" I inquire, guessing at the expression.

She crosses her arms, hands on her shoulders with a small shivering motion.

"You think it's scary that I can read your expressions after only knowing you a short time? Surely I'm not the only one."

Her shoulders relax.

"See? I knew I wasn't."

She leans a little towards me her neck rotating slightly towards Shizuo.

"Yeah, that's how it is."

"What?" Shizuo interrupts.

"Oh, Celty was jus telling me there's this girl who also catches on to what she's saying pretty quickly."

Celty nods her helmet at my interpretation.

"Generally, women tend to be more observant then men, though there are some exceptions," I elaborate.

Celty makes another sighing motion her right hand lightly touching her chest.

"Such as a man who is in love," I finish.

Celty jumps in her seat and shakes her index finger at me.

"Okay, okay, I won't speak of everything I see." I laugh, the tension of the night already fading in the company of my friends.

Shizuo looks confused and a little pissed off. "Can we switch to speaking a language that can be also understood by single men?"

"Sure," I agree with a light pink tint in my cheeks at the discovery that he's single and in theory available.

Celty elbows my lightly, noticing my reaction.

I give her a quick glance and a discreet silly grin. I acknowledge her power of observation and call for a truce which she silently agrees to.

Shizuo is still impatient and by now Simon is back from the kitchen after having gone off to take care of the dishes left by his late customer. His hands are not empty upon his return, "this time you come as customer, yes?"

The sushi does look good and if I'm going to stay awake long enough to confess the truth, I better eat something. "Yes," I agree to buy some sushi, which clearly pleases Simon.

"Very good!" He sets the plates down with the dish I had declared was my favorite the night before.

"You remembered, thank you," I smile and try the sushi, enjoy its taste, "this is great!" But I've done enough stalling. "The reason I'm here isn't just for sushi..." I told them the truth, the whole truth about my life, about my brother, about that man who looked like him, about his demise and even about my quest for information. "So I've heard the information broker Izaya could probably clarify all of this. I tried to find him yesterday but couldn't."

By that time, Shizuo was boiling with rage, "Izaya!" He bellowed at the top of his lungs. "It must have been his stupid knife, not that he'd care."

"But that was pretty lucky, I mean, I was at gunpoint!" I tried to calm Shizuo's anger, but I knew my argument would fail.

"That idiot!" Shizuo growled; his fist slammed hard into the table and broke it in half, propelling my unfinished meal into the air and by the laws of gravity causing it to land on Shizuo's head. His anger boiled further and both Simon and Celty took defensive poses before Shizuo tore down the entire restaurant.

I slowly picked up a napkin from the debris of the table and walked over to Shizuo. "If you say he's that bad, then I won't go to him." You started to clean off the sushi while he was still shaking in anger. "Simon, could you get me a moist towel, please?"

"Yes, yes, right away!" In a split second, the Russian sushi chef was back with the towel which I employed in cleaning Shizuo.

His fists were clenched at his side, his teeth were tightly pressed against each other and he was still twitching in anger. However, he was making quite the effort to not blow up and eventually the twitching faded away and he relaxed. "That's dangerous," he seriously warned. "Don't come near me when I'm angry, I might accidentally hurt you, even if I don't want to."

He was so serious that it made me laugh. "Don't be silly, if you don't want to hurt me than you won't." I gave him a friendly pat on the back and went to give Simon a hand in picking up the mess.

"No no, this not your mess to clean, it goes on Shizou's bill along with your meal he wasted. I make him buy you another," Simon offers.

"That's okay, don't worry about it," before we can further discuss the subject of the broken table, Celty scoops up the mess into a shadowy ball and carries it away to throw in the dumpster behind the restaurant, much to Simon's gratitude.

"You know what I really need?" I voice without giving it too much thought. "A hot shower and a nice soft bed, preferably in a place where no one will try to kill me."

Shizuo glanced at the restaurant's front; my luggage is still there next to the closed door. "If Izaya's involved there's always trouble. I wouldn't be surprise if he did have the answers you're looking for, only because he arranged the whole thing."

"Why would he?" I questioned without anger. "It wouldn't benefit him. The Orange Avengers had nothing to do with Izaya or even Ikebukuro. This has to be a problem from back home, some traitor trying to take control of the gang." The one who the dead man alluded to receiving instructions from back at the park. "The mastermind is definitely in the gang and probably thinks I know much more than I do, or maybe I'm just a scapegoat for his betrayal. All I know is that the Orange Avengers have chased me to Ikebukuro and they want me dead. But I can't die before I uncover the whole truth. There's so much about my brother I never knew, I just pretended and ran away, I'm not going to do that anymore. It might be too late for him, but it's better late than never. It also has to be done fast, if I don't unravel this mystery soon, the Orange Avengers might get so involved in this city that they'll probably add to the gang conflicts, add to the war." No one could possibly want that, right?

"I see, then it's settled, you can come to my place," Shizuo's offer left me in shock.

"What?" I forced my jaw to move, rather than hang open like Simon's. As for Celty, her hands where at her sides, palms open facing down, body slightly tilted forward, if she had a jaw, it would have dropped too.

Shizuo's face turned almost as red as mine, "er... that is... so that you don't get killed! It's just that you need a bodyguard and if Izaya's messing with you that's enough of a reason for me to take your side, because it's the side that stands against him. I don't know how exactly he's involved, but he's always causing trouble. It wouldn't be the first time he causes a gang to come to this city, or reemerge, just for the sake of making trouble. He's an insane bastard and that's all there is to it." He looked away as he gave his explanation, an expression of anger once again on his face.

I didn't understand his conclusions and I wondered why his anger towards Izaya ran so deep. I knew I was in no position to ask, I didn't know him well enough yet... yet... I pushed all impure thoughts away and simply said, "thank you." So that was it, it was decided, from that day, until an undetermined future, I would be living with Shizuo.

To be Continued

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Another Puzzle Piece

Chapter 4: Life

I was just about ready to fall asleep on my feet by the time Shizuo and I got to his apartment. I wasn't fully aware of what he was saying, but I vaguely understood that he was pointing out where things were. I dug out something to wear from my luggage, took my toothbrush along and dragged myself to the shower.

I nearly fell asleep under the warm water, but managed to stumble out of the bathroom with the black suit folded in my arms. I yawned as I randomly asked, "do you think it's dry clean only?"

"Celty made that suit for you, didn't she?" Shizuo half asked and half concluded, to which I nodded sleepily. "It's the same material as my gloves; it'll be fine if you toss it in the wash, that's some pretty good armor."

"That's... good..." I was clearly only half listening to him as he showed me to a bed. "Nice guestroom..."

I was just about ready to collapse into the bed when his words made me pause; it was just a casual comment really, but still. "This is my room, you can use it for now, I'll sleep on the couch." That I could not allow.

"No way, this is your apartment, you should sleep on your own bed, I'll take the couch." I insisted.

"It's fine, I could sleep anywhere, you obviously need the rest," Shizuo argued.

"No..." Maybe if I wasn't so tired, my refusal wouldn't sound so weak.

"Go on, get some sleep," with that said Shizuo walked away to get ready to get some sleep himself.

My stubbornness refused to let go of the argument and I waited for him to finish getting ready. I woke up a little seeing him emerge from the bathroom. The loose comfortable pants were no surprise; they were something anyone would wear to sleep. I wasn't wearing any fancy pajamas myself, just a long tshirt that went to my knees. The loose tshirt he was wearing, now that was funny. It had a bartender vest and bowtie painted on it which for some reason made me giggle.

"What?" Shizuo inquired not sure why I was laughing. He must have thought I was delirious from lack of sleep. "I thought you would be asleep by now."

"The argument wasn't over. I'll sleep on the couch," I was about to stride over to that comfy looking black couch, much like someone you'd expect to see in a fancy bar rather than someone's apartment.

Then Shizuo stood in my way, "bed."

"Couch."

"Bed."

"Couch."

As the repetition continued, our voices became louder as we tried to best the other in volume. Then some knocking on the ceiling, which was the floor for the above apartment, sounded off followed by a tired sounding upset voice, "it doesn't matter where you do it, just do it quietly!"

My face turned scarlet as I realized what Shizuo's upstairs neighbor was assuming. "Stay out of this, Tom!" Shizuo yelled back at the ceiling before clearing his throat and pretending that did not happen. Then he eyed the couch as did I.

We both made a dive for the piece of furniture like children fighting over a toy in the playground. He was faster, thus landed face first on the couch before I did. I had already made a jump for it and I couldn't possibly stop on time, thus I ended up landing on his back. My face turned even redder, if that was even possible, and I scrambled to my feet. "Sorry!" Needless to say it took every ounce of willpower I had to get off him as swiftly as I did.

"It's okay, you're not heavy," Shizuo's voice was slightly muffled as he spoke into the couch. He looked up a little, was that a hint of red on his face? "Now go, get some sleep. I shook my head stubbornly and stood there. Shizuo sighed in exasperation and stood. He was saying something about me getting some rest, I don't know, I was too sleepy to listen. I was falling I think, falling into him, but he caught me, I think, I'm not sure, it was blurry. Then everything faded away.

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I woke up, to the sound of an alarm clock. Being the spoiled little sister of the Orange Avengers leader, I never had to get up at a certain time for anything, not since I finished high school. Without thinking or realizing where I was I grabbed that noisy alarm clock and threw it against the wall opposite to the bed. Then I noticed this wasn't my usual room, nor was it my new little apartment. I was in Shizuo's bed and Shizuo was standing opposite to it, leaning against the wall, a piece of the alarm clock stuck to his hair from when it shattered against his forehead.

"Shizuo! I'm so sorry!" I hurried to his side, lifting my hand to remove the pieces of broken alarm clock from his hair.

His previously closed eyes opened with a pissed off look on his face. The look softened when he noticed my presence. I guess he must have remembered just why I was there. "Morning," he greeted nonchalant.

"The alarm clock," I didn't know what to say about that. Here I was, a guest in his home and I threw an alarm clock at his face. He didn't seem to be hurt though and I remembered just how indestructible he seemed to be. Unfortunately, the alarm clock was not indestructible.

"Oh? Did it go off?" He looked towards the night stand where the clock should have been, then to the floor at its shattered remains as I apologized again. "Never mind, I break my alarm clocks all the time anyway."

I was forgiven easily enough, though I insisted on getting him a new alarm clock later. I logically concluded that I must have fallen asleep while arguing and he must have put me in bed. But why was he standing there when he could have slept on the couch or... next to me? I wouldn't have minded, but I tried to keep such thoughts away. For crying out loud, I barely knew him! I guess it was all the effect of my past life. The good guys stayed away from me because I was the sister of a dangerous criminal and the bad guys stayed away from me because my brother beat them to a bloody pulp. So basically my dating pool was nonexistent back home. "Why were you standing there?"

"I must have fallen asleep..." Shizuo confessed. "I was standing guard. Last night after you fell asleep, some guys wearing orange tried to sneak in through the window." It was only a second floor, so it wasn't too hard to get up there. "I punched them into the next block, but I thought they might be back so I stood guard."

"You guarded me all night?" The thought made me blush. "Thank you, I didn't think those guys would be this troublesome."

"Don't worry about it, they'll get the message soon enough," Shizuo assured. "Since it's pretty clear they're still after you, you better hang out with me today at work. I'm sure Tom won't mind if you tag along."

"Thank you, I'm such a bother..." I sighed.

"Not at all, it's good to have some punks to let out my tensions with," Shizuo grinned. Then his phone rang and he answered it. "Now, yeah, that sounds pretty good, yeah she's still here. Okay, I'll tell her." I looked curiously at Shizuo, intrigued by the short conversation I heard one side of. "Tom said he ordered a big breakfast from that restaurant down the street and asked if we would join him. I guess that means it might be a long day at work today. Do you like pancakes?"

"I love pancakes!" I squealed in delight and also curiosity. It seemed that Shizuo's upstairs neighbor was not only a friend of his, but also a coworker. "So who is Tom? A coworker?"

"Actually he hired me," Shizuo revealed.

"Oh, so he owns a bar?" I was curious about where the bar he worked at was located. I was pretty close to twenty-one so maybe he could get me in, I could get my hands on a false ID, but I had decided to leave that life behind. Besides, my birthday wasn't so far away anyway.

"Bar?" Shizuo seemed confused by my assumption. "He's a debt collector and I'm his bodyguard. I've never worked at a bar, why does everyone keep assuming I do?"

"Ah..." I opened my mouth and closed it again, unable to find what to say. "Um... we shouldn't keep Tom waiting." I maneuvered out of the subject."

"Yeah, I'm hungry," Shizuo was quick to agree with the thought of a nice breakfast waiting for him.

We quickly got ready for the day, me with normal clothes since my unbreakable leather suit was in the wash and he with another of his um... bodyguard uniforms? I still say it's a bartender uniform, but I'm not complaining, he certainly looks good.

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In the third floor apartment I was introduced to Tom Tanaka, Shizuo's boss and a good friend. As we took our seats at the table he voiced, "I really am sorry about last night's interruption I was feeling a bit cranky being woken up, but it's okay, don't mind me. I'm glad Shizuo found a girlfriend."

My face turned scarlet yet again, and I remained silent while Shizuo growled, "she's not my girlfriend," between his teeth, a red tint invading his handsome face... which I really need to stop staring at.

"Right," tome smiled, ignoring what Shizuo said completely. "Take good care of Shizuo for me." I nodded automatically unable to say anything, much to Tom's amusement.

Shizuo decided not to argue further and started devouring a stack of pancakes, pausing only to mention that I would be hanging out with them today so he could keep on eye on me so I wouldn't be killed. Shizuo's casual tone at the explanation didn't seem odd to Tom, but he didn't appear to doubt the story either and assured that he didn't mind the extra company.

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That day we went to many places so that Tom could collect some debts. Along the way, members of the Orange Avengers attacked, but they seemed to be worried about the idea of attracting attention by using guns in broad daylight, so they used other less effective methods such as punches, kicks and a variety of blunt and pointy objects which didn't even make Shizuo flinch. He dispatched them all with ease and we continued on our way as if the obstacles were never there.

In the end of the day, I offered to buy them dinner and asked what they wanted to eat. Tom was in the mood for sushi, which Shizuo claimed he had a lot of lately, but didn't mind either way. As we talked during dinner, I was asked about my plans for the near future. Tom was unaware of my story and I didn't know if it was wise to get him involved but I didn't want to lie. Instead I leaned towards the more casual side of my life. "I guess I should get a job," my savings wouldn't last forever no matter how much I tried to stretch them and I could no longer count on my brother for everything like I used to.

Shizuo's expression hinted that he was about to protest and I guessed what his point would be. He had a job to tend to and if I was busy working elsewhere, how would he serve as my body guard and Tom's bodyguard at the same time? Just in time to hear my earlier statement about needing a job, Simon had approached with dessert and offered, "Russia Sushi need waitress, you work here if want."

My eyes lit up, I would miss hanging out with Shizuo all day, but I didn't want to sponge off him and my new friends to survive. I did at least buy him that new alarm clock I promised when we passed a store while running errands with Tom today. "Can I, really?" Simon nodded and my smile grew even more as I looked at Shizuo.

"I guess that could work," Shizuo agreed. "Make sure she's okay, Simon."

"Do not worry," Simon assured and thus it was settled. I now had a job. I would work at Russia Sushi and continue living with Shizuo from now until an unknown future.

To be Continued

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Another Puzzle Piece

Chapter 5: Sushi

After having some dinner at Russia Sushi, where I would be working starting tomorrow, Shizuo and I went back to his apartment. He was clearly very tired since he hardly slept last night guarding me. As we walked down the street past an alley, a pair of glowing eyes watched us and with a high pitched, "meow!" A cat darted out of the darkness.

Shizuo acted on instinct unable to control himself. He clenched his teeth with an involuntary growl, ready to kick the creature that took him by surprise. "Stop!"

To my astonishment, he stopped his posture somewhat odd from being ready to kick. The cat remained oblivious to the doom that almost befell her as she rubbed against Shizuo's leg, purring. He straightened and let out a breath of relief. "Thank you for stopping me."

"No problem," I watched as the cat placed her front paws on Shizuo's leg, lifting herself on her hind legs and meowing. Her stomach was a big chubby for a street cat, but her limbs were thin, which made her look mismatched. She still had a cute gray face and blue eyes; although she might have been white, turned gray by the dust of the city.

"This?" Shizuo held up the bag he got from Russia Sushi. Simon packed up some sushi for us insisting that we take it in case we needed a midnight snack. The cat rose one of her front paws, still using the other for support, as if reaching for the bag. "I guess the scent of sushi must have attracted her."

"Aw poor kitty," I picked her up gently, "are you hungry? Want to come home with me?" Then I realized that I didn't really have a home to go to, I was currently living with Shizuo. Both the cat and I gave him sad looks.

"No way..." Shizuo refused.

"You don't seem to be allergic to cats..." I observed, "are they not allowed in the building?"

"That's not the problem." He was quiet for a moment before finally replying. "You saw what almost happened. If she jumps on me suddenly trying to play, I might kill her."

"You worry too much Mr. I'm Deadly Dangerous," I laughed, trying to lighten the mood. "It'll be okay! I'll take care of her and teach her not to take you by surprise. Besides, you want to learn more self control, don't you? I can tell you do. This is a perfect opportunity! Please!" The cat added her own soft meows to my plea until Shizuo couldn't resist.

"Alright, alright! But she's your responsibility!" He grumbled and kept walking.

"Awesome!" I cheered victoriously. "Hear that kitty cat? You have a new home! So Shizuo, what should we name her?"

He paused for a moment, as if wondering why I was asking him to name her if it was just established that she was my cat. Then he answered to my request and though his suggested name wasn't particularly creative, he insisted that was her name. It was actually simply the first syllable of my name with a chan attached to it.

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When we got home, the apartment was thankfully untouched. "Here, go feed the cat." Shizuo gave me the bag of sushi, which the cat in my arms kept pawing at.

I set her down and opened up the sushi takeout for her. She could eat out of the cardboard container for tonight, until I get her a cat dish tomorrow. "Can I take some milk for the kitty?" I asked, trying to be polite and not invade Shizuo's refrigerator without permission, I was his house guest after all.

"Sure, take what you need; there should be some plastic bowls somewhere in there too." Shizuo replied with a yawn. It wasn't all that late, but I knew he was ready for some rest.

After setting down the cat's milk, and let me say that cat could certainly eat and drink, I observed Shizuo. "I'll have to bathe her tomorrow," I commented.

"I suppose," Shizuo yawned again.

"You should get some sleep," I stated, my eyes still on his sleepy expression.

"I have to stand guard," he stated as a matter of fact.

"No you don't," I insisted taking his hand, "you're going to get some sleep." I pulled him towards the bed room and he walked along with me, but I knew he wouldn't actually lie down, he was too stubborn. "C'mon, get some rest, you need it!"

Shizuo shook his head, perhaps more then needed for a simple no. He was trying to keep himself awake and I knew it. Then a moment of silence passed and the seconds ticked away in stillness. As he stood there looking at his nice soft bed, I knew he was tempted to get some sleep, and he did... but he was still standing.

I sighed hopelessly. "You're going to be all stiff if you sleep on your feet, how restful can that be?" I knew my words were lost to the man journeying through slumber land. I gave him a little push, trying to make him fall on the bed. I knew he was a heavy sleeper judging by my past experience involving the demise of an alarm clock on his face, though I did replace the clock not long ago. The problem was that he wasn't moving no matter how hard I pushed. "You're still indestructible even in your sleep..." I backed away and took a deep breath, going as far as the room's space would allow. Then I dashed towards him and tackled him with all my strength.

I finally got him to move and drop onto the bed. Feeling accomplished I rolled off his back into the space beside him. I was tempted to stay there; he was such a heavy sleeper he wouldn't even notice if I cuddled him. But that would be taking advantage, furthermore what if I fell asleep and didn't wake up until after he did tomorrow? He might be upset by the invasion. As I contemplated these things he suddenly rolled over in his sleep and trapped me in place.

"Owff..." The air was knocked out of my lungs by the sudden weight on top of me. I shifted with very limited movement and took in a deep breath. "Shizuo?" His head rested on my chest as he remained oblivious to my proximity. He muttered something and shifted slightly as if adjusting himself unconsciously for comfort, he must have thought I was a pillow. "Shizuo?" I ran my fingers through his hair, I was comfortable now, but I really shouldn't... "C'mon Shizuo, you have to wake up so I can get up." I whispered, certainly not loud enough to wake him. "If you don't answer me, I'm going to assumed you're okay with this sleeping arrangement for tonight." Of course, no answer came and before I knew it, I was drifting off to sleep.

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When the alarm clock went off as programmed the next morning, I wish I had not bought it. Shizuo woke up pissed off, as did I, neither of us were morning people. However, the dreadful noisy alarm clock wasn't within my reach to destroy this time. Shizuo grumbled half asleep as if a dream he was having was interrupted, probably a dream about a fight. His fist reached out over my head and collided with the bed's wooden headboard before Shizuo woke up completely and looked down to see I was there.

His face grew increasingly red, as did mine. It looked like he was searching his memories to figure out what had happened. He finally let out a confused, "what?"

"Nothing," I squeaked in embarrassment. "I was just trying to get you to rest. You fell asleep on your feet and I thought it was uncomfortable so I tried to push you into bed. I managed to do it but I kind of fell along with you and before I could get out of the way you rolled over. I was trapped, so... yeah."

He slid a hand over his face as he sat next to me on the bed, freeing me from my previous entrapment. "I'm such a heavy sleeper it's no wonder you couldn't wake me. I just trained myself to wake up when the alarm goes off and most other sounds I unconsciously ignore." He looked away as he explained this, "sorry."

"It's alright, you don't have to apologize, I mean, it was an accident and besides, everything's okay," and I enjoyed it, but I'm not about to say that out loud.

Shizuo's eyes examine the broken headboard. "That could have been you..."

"Don't start with that!" I scolded. "It wasn't me so don't guilt trip yourself! You're not as deadly as you think, not scary at all," I smiled trying to lighten the situation.

"You take too many risks," Shizuo knew by now that I was simply too stubborn to argue with, so he left it at that and got up. We both had a busy day ahead of us.

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It's my first day working at Russia Sushi. I was given a tour of the kitchen before opening and told where everything was kept. I was going to be a waitress, but it would be good if I knew my way around the kitchen. The refrigerator was huge; the plates neatly stashed away ready for use and the knife collection looked sharp and shiny. I also learned that the sushi ice-cream that sounded so odd didn't actually have any sushi in it.

I was told about a super secret spice. It wasn't revealed what was in it, I was simply told to be careful with it. In Simon's words, "if you have small cut in hand and spice fall there, it will feel like a terrible fire. If spice falls in eyes, it will feel like pepper spray, so you be vary careful with special spice." I promised to be careful and as the final preparation I was given a uniform to change into.

The blue yukata felt a bit silly at first because of all its decorations that felt out of place since I wasn't in some kind of festival where everyone was wearing stuff like this. It's similar to Simon's uniform so it's not like I'm the only one dressed like this and it is part of the job. My opinion of the uniform improved when I realized how comfortable and easy to move in it was.

The restaurant was open for business and the customers started to arrive. Simon was outside advertising. He told me to call him right away if I was having trouble with anything. I don't think I'll have to do that though, this job is pretty easy. All I need to do is greet the customers, help them find a table and right down their orders. That information goes to the kitchen and once they have the meals ready, I'll take them to the proper tables.

Around mid day a peculiar couple arrived. They seemed to be in high school judging by their uniforms. Since it was the lunch break for students, there were many walking around the streets of Ikebukuro, some for the sake of taking a breather and other seeking something different from the cafeteria food and packed lunches.

The boy had a somewhat serious nonchalant look on his face, while the girl clung to his arm happily. "Romantic table for two!" She cheerfully requested as I went to greet them.

While I led the couple to their table I thought I saw three suspicious men enter the restaurant and I caught a hint of orange in their attire. Could it be that the Orange Avengers followed me to my job thinking that they could attack me since Shizuo wasn't around? There's such a big crowd outside; that must be how they snuck past Simon unnoticed. I hurried to show the couple to their table, the Orange Avengers are my problem and I don't want to involve the Russia Sushi customers in this. Maybe if I'm lucky they're just hungry and have not actually noticed me. If that's the case, let the other waitress serve them. For now, I'll focus on serving the couple their meal and keeping a low profile.

To be Continued

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Disclaimer, I don't own DRRR!

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