Chapter 9 is here, my pretties! This is, believe it or not, the LAST CHAPTER! Yeesh, this has been fun! Thanks for reading! You all have been so good to me, I will never forget the support!
Shinra was awake at 4:30 in the morning, right on schedule. He looked over at the dozing woman beside him, smiling. It was a little known fact that when Celty hit the pillow, she was out until the 8:00 am the next morning but her fiancé knew her well. Heaven forbid she rise a minute earlier because, as had Shinra discovered, the dullahan morphed into a grouchy minefield if woken up too early. So Shinra left the bed so quietly, it was as if he hadn't at all, and continued on to his annual mission: Operation Woo-Celty-With-Your-Smexy-Looks-Thoughtful-Gifts-A nd-Deliciously-Irresistible-Personality. Needless to say, the doctor had been launching this masterfully-planned scheme every year on Valentine's Day since he was a 14-year-old geek who had been forced – by his hellish music teacher - to join the school band and play a cheap plastic recorder. (Shinra despised the instrument years after the event, and still held a firm grudge against his music teacher.) Even though the cursed recorder was no longer a part on Shinra's life, Operation WCWYSLTGADIP, as Shinra called it, was. The goal of the grand scheme was, well, to woo Celty. The many years of Operation WCWYSLTGADIP had a rocky start, in which adolescent Shinra lacked the creativity to come up with anything besides classic Valentine's Day gifts: Roses, which Celty thought were wildly expensive and therefore over the top. Chocolates, which she couldn't eat, but pretended to be delighted by anyway. A hand-made ceramic heart which Celty now used as a doorstop. But eventually, his gift ideas improved and the dullahan came to expect a thoughtful present every 14th of February. Shinra shot one more loving look at his fiancée and then crept into the quiet of the hallway. It was almost pitch black, but Shinra's eyes adjusted quickly. He walked with ease through the dark hotel and into the sunless morning. The stars blinked down on the doctor as he set to work on what was possibly the best surprise in the long and prestigious history of Operation WCWYSLTGADIP. Shinra took out a notepad and started writing. It was 4:47 am.
When Shizuo woke up, the first thing he felt was a hazy peace. Like the harsh edges of the world had been softened. He plunged into consciousness and was suddenly aware of was the cool linens on his sheets and the feeling of someone else's hand in his. The debt collector's eyes shot open, taken aback by the foreign sensation. His hand was gripping Izaya's left pinkie. (How had that happened?) His large palm seemed to swallow the information broker's finger. Shizuo's rough hand felt out of place with Izaya's soft and pale pinkie. Izaya, looking serene and blissful, a small smirk playing on his lips. No. This wasn't happening. Not with Izaya, stupid, annoying, utterly pesky Izaya. Not in a million years. Shizuo let go of Izaya gently, and all but scrambled out of the hotel room as if death itself was on his tail. It wasn't until he was halfway down the hall that he realized how much he wanted to go back.
Izaya woke up to the sound of a slamming door. It was Shizuo. He had left. Izaya glanced over at the imprint of Ikebukoro's strongest individual in the bed, the lingering ghost of the man who had been sleeping beside him not twenty minutes earlier. The information broker sighed and pulled the covers over his head.
Shizuo prodded the microwave omelet with his plastic fork. Breakfast looked less than appealing. Things were rather hushed in the hotel dining hall, just how he liked it. One or two others sat in the overstuffed arm chairs, sipping coffee and snacking on blueberry muffins. As of the moment, he had one imperative, and that was to avoid Izaya at all costs. It was a childish tactic for running, Shizuo knew that all too well, but he still opted to lay low.
"Izaya Orihara is Izaya Orihara is Izaya Orihara is Izaya Orihara." Shizuo whispered under his breath.
The debt collector spent the rest of the morning systematically steering clear of Izaya. He ran into a giggling Shinra, whose pockets were bulging with little sheets of paper. The doctor's appearance made Shizuo teeter on suspicion.
"Shinra, you gonna tell me what's in your pockets?"
"Well," Shinra gushed, "Glad you asked. I'm just embarking on Operation WCWYSLTGADIP."
Shizuo raised an eyebrow at the doctor's over-the-top acronym.
"Woo Celty With Your Smexy Looks, Thoughtful Gifts, and Deliciously Irresistible Personality," Shinra elaborated.
"Basically, in out-doing myself in order to impress Celty every Valentine's Day, I am dubbed the flawless Adonis fiancé. It's a fool proof plan. Celty will melt into a puddle of mushy tender cuteness by noon."
"Good luck with that."
"So, are you going to the dance?"
"The what now?"
"Oh Shizuo," Shinra shook his head. "You're hopeless! Tonight is All-You-Can-Dance night! Aren't you going to get out there and bust a move?"
"Come on, Shizu-chan!"
"Don't call me Shizu-chan. And I won't do it, not on your life."
"Can't say I didn't try to convince you. Anyways, where's Izaya?"
"Don't know, don't care. The more distance I put between me and that little flea, the better."
"That's not what Erika told me."
Shizuo's blood ran cold.
"The Otaku girl? What did she have to say?"
"Gosh, from what she told me you guys were like this." Shinra crossed his middle and index fingers and held them up for Shizuo to see.
Shizuo uttered some undecipherable curses under his breath and took of down the hall.
"Hey, Shizuo! Where are you going?"
"Wherever that little maggot isn't!"
As Shizuo was going out of his way to avoid Izaya, Izaya was eating cottage cheese out of the original tub in a hot bubble bath. Izaya was not one to live in excess, but he allowed himself comfort food, and often bought cottage cheese, canned tuna, and Dark Chocolate Ben and Jerry's by the gallon at a corner grocery store in Shinjuku. He shoveled the food down his throat –one big spoonful after another – and sang along to the lyrics of the 'Testosterone Junction' CD he was playing, basking in the glow of his precious boy band and altering the lyrics slightly as he sang them.
"Damn Shizu-chan, you're so fiiiiinnnneee," Izaya crooned through a mouthful of cottage cheese. "I'll walk to the ends of the world, just so you can be miiiiiiiine!"
There was a knock on the door. Izaya stopped abruptly and hopped out of the tub, shook his hair dry. He threw on a fluffy beige bathrobe, which was generously provided by the hotel, and clambered over to the door, throwing it open dramatically. Celty was standing there, hands on her hips.
"How can I help you, oh bosomy wench?"
[Good morning to you too, Izaya. Nice…robe.]
"Why thank you! Won't you come in? I just opened up a new tub of cottage cheese!" Izaya nodded to the jar he carried under his arm.
[I've got to pass. Not having a mouth is always a set-back in eating.]
"That's too bad, there really is nothing more splendid than dairy in the morning!"
[Yes, that's nice. Have you seen Shinra?]
"Your quirky object of affection?"
[You know who I'm talking about.]
"The off-beat doctor of your fondest dreams?"
[Izaya. Have you or have you not seen Shinra?]
[Do me a favor and tell the goofball I'm looking for him if you two bump into each other. I haven't seen him all morning.]
"Anything for my good old chum's bosomy wench!"
[You call me 'bosomy wench' one more time and I'll -]
"Whatever you say, Celty. I'll keep an eye open for him."
[…Well, thanks, Izaya.]
Upon closing the door, Izaya gleefully returned to the tub, and Celty worriedly hurried back to the hotel room. She could expect a little gift on Valentine's Day, but not a complete disappearance of her fiancé. Once she sat down on the floral-print hotel couch, Celty noticed the tiny red envelope lying innocently on the coffee table. She picked it up and turned it over in her hands before gently tearing open the thick paper. The note inside, penned in Shinra's casual scrawl, read:
My beloved, look in the coffee pot.
Transfixed, Celty wandered to the instant-coffee pot in the kitchen and looked inside. Another red envelope.
"That rascal," she thought, and began to follow the trail of scarlet paper her lover left behind.
By that afternoon, Celty was more annoyed than charmed. After a couple hours of wild goose chase, she had uncovered over 200 envelopes and felt like she was going in circles. She had just found one hidden in the leaves of an indoor plant:
Sweet Turtle Dove, this is the last clue. You can find your gift in the closet of our hotel room."
Celty, though flattered by Shinra's rather sickening pet names, thought this was a little lame.
"All this for the closet?" She wondered, though dutifully heading back to their hotel room. Cautiously opening the closet door, Celty peered into the darkness. What she saw made her shake with delight.
Shinra had resorted to the cheesy gifts like he sometimes did. No roses, no chocolates, no teddy bears, none of that crap. Instead, he had gotten her a new Mario Kart game. The dullahan was transfixed with it for the rest of the afternoon.
[Where's Shizuo?] Celty typed cheerily, spinning around in circles, taking in the splendor of the lobby, which was transformed into a beautiful dance hall. All furniture was pushed to the sides of the large room, allowing the occupants a spacious dance floor.
"I dunno," Shinra shrugged. "He said he wasn't going to show. I don't see Erika, either."
[Poor Walker, he's been abandoned.]
The boy stood awkwardly in a deserted corner of the hall, looking dazed and disoriented. He gripped his plastic cup of fruits punch so tightly, it looked like it was about to burst. Celty waved to him merrily, to which he answered with sad little nod.
[He really is lost without that girl.]
[I sure hope Izaya isn't wreaking havoc somewhere. You know what we need? A dog leash. For Izaya, you know? I never feel comfortable when he's out of my sight.]
Shinra chuckled. "A dog leash would be handy. But I don't think we'll be needing it tonight." He gestured to Izaya, who was sitting in an arm chair on the side of the dance floor, looking particularly deflated.
[Wow. Someone's not in the V-day spirit.]
"Tell me about it."
[Ah well, at least he doesn't have to be in the same room as Shizuo. Do you think he'll show up?]
"To be honest, I think he's in his room debating if he should come or not."
At that moment, Shizuo was in his room, debating if he was or was not going to attend the hotel dance.
"I won't go." He said aloud. "No, I'm just too busy; I couldn't make it if I wanted to. I've got to clip my toenails, eat my microwave lasagna, and then there's a Pretty Little Liars marathon on T.V. tonight, so I should watch that."
Shizuo sighed, massaging his temples. He could hear the music coming from the lobby.
"But if I do go, I won't have to deal with Shinra! I won't have to live it down for days. I won't have to come up with an excuse for not going. But on the other hand, that ridiculous doctor will be there, Izaya will be there, and those damn Otakus will be there."
He flopped onto the hotel bed. "But if I do go, I can deal with Izaya sooner rather than later."
He thought for a minute. "Fine. I'm going. I'll pop in for ten minutes, but then I'm coming right back." Shizuo started towards the door. "Wait, what am I doing? I could catch a taxi home and be in my apartment by the next morning. No conflict whatsoever!" He turned away from the door. "I'll just go home." At that moment, realization struck Shizuo. "But to get out, I have to go through the lobby. Damn. I guess I'll just have to suck it up go." He charged toward the door, down the corridor and into the fray.
But he wasn't ready for what he was if for. Loud music, slow dancing couples, colors, laughter, and no clear passage to the exit.
"Shizuo!" Shinra called grandly from across the room, spreading his arms widely dramatically.
"Oh no," Shizuo muttered under his breath as Celty and Shinra maneuvered through the crowd.
"Come join the party!"
"Erm, I was just leaving."
"Shizuo, you little idiot! Live a little!"
"No, thank you," the debt collector said stiffly.
"Well, then you'd better go join the other party pooper," Shinra grinned maliciously, pointing to the sulking information broker.
"I'd rather not."
"Fine, fine!" The music changed to an acoustic slow song. "Ooh," Shinra exclaimed, "Celty, dance?"
The dullahan took her fiancés hand and they waltzed into the crowd. Shizuo took the opportunity to make his way to one of the edges of the dance floor – the one farthest away from Izaya - and plopped down in a chair. The night wore on, couples spiraling back in forth until they were too tired to move through another song. The balloons drooped and the streamers sagged. A few couples remained. Shinra and Celty had left, (Shizuo had caught the bedroom eyes the doctor was making at his fiancée) and neither Erika nor Walker were anywhere to be seen. But Izaya was still there. Of course the maggot was still there. If the Earth underwent a fiery apocalypse in which humankind perished, Izaya would still be there. Shizuo stared at Izaya. Izaya stared at Shizuo. It wasn't the thick, intense tension Shizuo was used to. It was a calm acknowledgement.
"Hello there," Izaya's eyes seemed to whisper from across the room. Words caught in the blonde's throat. Thoughts ran like water through Shizuo's mind, words he would never say. Words like "I missed the chaos today. Like I missed your crazy laugh. And your weird lifestyle. But most of all, I missed you. Instead of saying any of those things, Shizuo said nothing at all. He stood up and walked casually to Izaya. Shizuo came to a stop in front of Izaya, and held out his open hand.
"Would you dance with me?" It came out easier than he had thought it would.
Izaya, curled up in a ball in the chair, unfurled from his position, and soundlessly took the man's hand. A gentle acoustic song started in the background, and the two men, practically the only ones on the dance floor, began to gradually whirl around the lobby.
"Is this really what love feels-"
"Shhhh," Izaya interrupted Shizuo in mid-sentence. "Words aren't needed now."
Their eyes locked on each other like magnets, glistening in the dim light. Even though it was a romance between an unnaturally strong debt collector with a temper munchkin-short temper and an information broker who played with human mind as a hobby, it worked. And that was more than enough for the two of them.
Admittedly, the moment would have been totally ruined if they had seen a certain Erika Karisawa videotaping them from under the punch table.
The following morning, Shinra and Izaya had a conversation:
"Izaya, I think I know how to clear up that pesky estrogen."
"Hmmm? What estrogen?"
"Izaya. The hormones you obtained from my lab. The reason why you have been living with us for the past couple weeks."
"Oh, I lied about all that. The entire thing was just an act."
"Wait, what?" The doctor sputtered.
"I just wanted to see what was going to happen. You guys trust my word more than you should."
Izaya smartly left the vicinity before Shinra could explode.
The events of the vacation were most certainly game-changing. The Otakus uploaded the footage of Shizuo and Izaya they collected to every social network site known to man under the user name 'YaoiExtremist3.0.' Erika submitted it upon arriving in Ikebukoro after the weekend, and the video had over 3 million hits on many sites in its first 48 hours on the web.
Upon seeing the video after it went viral, Shizuo threw his laptop clear out of his apartment window in a fit of anger.
Celty and Shinra were married the following September and took off for a month to the Irish countryside. The happy couple was the center of attention on their special day- that is the center of everyone's attention except for their two love-struck best men who were absorbed in nothing but each other. And that, that would never change.
Dear Readers: Thank you for sticking with this rather unseasonal fanfic! I will be going on hiatus this summer, so I will see you in September!
Sunshine and sushi,
The Queen of Fairyland