He could walk on the moon if he wanted to.
If anything, he had that in common with her. But that was it. They weren't friends or enemies. They didn't share common interests. That perpetual smile that loitered on his face didn't faze her but didn't exactly have her jumping for joy either, although her displeasure never cracked her blank mask. Before, she would blindly pass him without seeing him, and blindly, he would observe her like everyone else. That was it. It wasn't surprising that he approached her like he did every other.
"Go away," was the first thing she said to him three weeks later. She hadn't even looked up from her book. Chortling to himself, Izaya collapsed into a reclining position on the bench next to her.
"But Micchan," he whined, "I thought you liked to be bothered. You're so quiet you need a little excitement in your life."
"A stalker isn't my idea of excitement," she responded flatly, not bothering to remind him not to call her "Micchan." Sure, it was demeaning, but she didn't want him to call her anything at all anyway. Micchan, Michiru, it would bug her no matter what he said as long as it was her that he was saying it to.
"You don't like me, do you, Micchan?" He didn't sound like he cared.
"It doesn't really matter one way or the other."
"You're so apathetic! Why don't you get mad at me? Maybe I'd leave."
"That sounds more like a bribe than anything else." Her eyes still hadn't left her book.
"So? Get mad, get mad!"
Finally, Michiru turned her head and arched a brow at him. Izaya let out a disappointed sigh when she made no further action.
"That was a very sad attempt at anger, Micchan."
"I wasn't trying." She went back to her book.
"You're so boring."
"Is that book so very engaging?"
"Is the reason you hide your emotions behind an expressionless façade because you're afraid of being judged?"
"Ah-hah. Hit right on the mark, didn't I?"
"No, I was just thinking. You may be right. I don't really know."
Slumping, Izaya sighed again. "You really don't care, do you?"
"Like I said, I don't know. You're the one that doesn't care."
"Oh, I care. I love humans very, very much. I care about everything they do."
"…I hate humans."
"You're human too, you know."
Silence. Then, grudgingly: "I know."
He was like that reflection on the water that taunts you when you try to grab it but invites you to try anyway. She was like a mirror; you could touch it, but you couldn't get behind it. Your own reflection blocks you from slipping through. But mirrors don't lie with words like "I don't know." She cared. She cared so much she feared it would break her. And she knew that he was lying too, and he didn't care at all. They both disconnected for different reasons—one to fly, one not to drown. Silently, they each stared down from the moon and pretended not to exist.
Her phone buzzed in her pocket, struggling against the restraining fabric of her jeans. When she flipped it open, Michiru didn't recognize the number, but for one reason or another, she answered it anyway.
"Don't you have school today, Micchan?"
"Izaya Orihara, how did you get my phone number?"
"Are you ditching? I didn't think you had the guts for that! It's always the quiet ones, isn't it?"
Forcing herself not to violently shove the cell phone back into her pocket, Michiru took exactly two and a half steps down the sidewalk before a long arm slung casually over her shoulders and she turned down a street she really hadn't intended to.
"You shouldn't hang up on people, Micchan. It's rude."
"Do you time your stunts or just ad-lib?"
"Shh, trade secret. Unless you want to buy the information."
"No thanks. I'm broke."
"I know. Micchan always buys a package of onigiri for lunch when she's low on money."
"How long exactly have you been stalking me?"
"Of last year."
"Yeah, that's a lie."
"Maybe not you directly, but your father has been under my radar for a while."
"He's in debt, you know."
"Shizu-chan's been paying him visits."
"Isn't that scary?"
"Are you done?" She regretted the note of exasperation in her voice before the victorious grin even broke across his face.
"So I am bothering you. Did I hit a sore spot? Is it just too much talking and no book to read? My arm around you?"
"Go away. And get your arm off of me," she added, nudging said limb off her shoulders. The physical contact was probably the thing bothering her most, she admitted silently—it prickled her skin like goose bumps and made her edgy and self-conscious. She felt like an astronaut being pulled back to earth. Izaya let his arm drop, but it quickly hooked around her own before she could walk away.
"You don't have anything to do, right?" he chimed. "Why don't you come over to my place?"
"You're an older man and I'm a high schooler. It's a little unorthodox."
"So? And hey, I'm only twenty-three. You'll be eighteen in a few months, too."
"I really need to keep better track of my personal information."
Although Izaya was as unsure as she was of why he had brought her to his office, his territory, his fortress, his keen eyes glinted with laughter as Michiru's jaded ones betrayed the thrill washing down her spine. The scintillation of the city sparked in her dilating pupils as her gaze was drawn magnetically to the large window overlooking Shibuya, and she drifted towards it in a dreamlike trance until her nose was inches from the glass. He had a good guess as to what her thoughts were. It's beautiful. You can see everything from here. It's like a different world.
A world separate from humans.
Separate, indeed. And, he imagined she was thinking as her lids lowered in melancholy reverie, so very lonely. Maybe it was. But he didn't care. He was on the moon, just like she was—alone on the moon, looking down at the world and wondering what to do next. Her "next" might be to crash through the glass window into the open air; his might be to push her before she could gather the courage to fling herself out to freedom.
Neither of them caused a crash of breaking glass before Michiru turned, clearing her throat, and cast another glance around the office. Her attention landed on his computer.
"That's where you keep all your information?" she assumed.
"That's right," Izaya confirmed, dropping nonchalantly into his chair. "I have backups, obviously, but this is my number one tool. Besides humans, of course." He placed a hand fondly on top of the machine. Her eyes remained on the blank screen for a few moments before they returned to the outside world of a smoky sky above and a sea of stars below. Izaya watched her watching the earthbound Milky Way.
"Do you like it?" he asked. She was silent and expressionless for a long time, like she always was when she was thinking with dark and painful placidity. Then, finally, she answered the way she had to.
"I don't know." It was said so slowly and deliberately it could have been that she either wanted to be clear or she was just realizing it herself. "It's beautiful. And I can see it all. But…"
Izaya's smile grew. "But?"
Silence again, but she wasn't thinking. It was hesitation. "I…It just makes me hurt."
"Why?" he pressed. Her lip tensed. Slowly, she raised a hand and pressed the fingertips against the glass, leaving oil memories of the whorls and creases in her skin. Izaya would lift and record the prints later.
"Do you hate people who want to die?"
"But you won't stop them?"
"Izaya, what do you think it's like to die?"
His interest was growing with each question. "What do you think?"
Her lashes trembled over glimmering eyes, and the hand on the glass slid quietly downward, the fingers no longer stretched like she was reaching for something but curved like she had just missed it. Swallowing the tightness in her throat, Michiru let her forehead rest against the glass.
"Maybe when you die," she murmured, "maybe then you finally touch the world without getting hurt. Because when you die, there's nothing left to lose."
"There are worse things than death, Micchan."
"You're right. There's hate." She lifted her eyes to the city again. "There's love."
There was a chuckle. "You only hate love because you can never get enough of it. And I bet you think that's the worst thing of all."
And she said, "I don't know."
Izaya smiled. He was always doing that as he danced on the moon, skipping over craters and leaving new ones, while Michiru sat still as death and waited for there to be no more love left for her to hate—or for there to be enough love for her, too. She hated that stubborn hope almost as much as love and hate and lies and "Micchan" and the goddamn moon that stared down from the sky while she wasn't on it. Away from the world. Away from herself. Silent.
Michiru barely heard the chair creak and the footsteps padding their way towards her until a pair of arms wrapped around her torso and a chin came to rest on her right shoulder. A crescent grin was reflected in the window's glass.
"Would you like me to lie to you, Micchan?" Izaya purred. Michiru closed her eyes.
"I don't know," she told him, but they both knew. Izaya's whisper brushed the shell of her ear.
"I love you, Michiru."
She didn't believe him. But she let him take her hand and dance her across the cold starlit moon, swathed in gossamer lies.