Izaya rarely runs into Celty Sturluson when he doesn’t mean to. As loathe as he is to admit that he devotes more attention to her than most of the actors involved in Ikebukuro, he does have her movements tracked and documented.

It doesn’t take much effort on his part, because Namie is always at her most diligent when taking care of this specific task.

His head is still ringing from the kick he barely avoided earlier. He can feel how deeply set the headache is—he can feel how much he will regret the migraine that is sure to come in a few hours. Maybe this is what does him in.

Whatever the case is, Celty appears in front of him in a way he hasn’t planned or at least anticipated.

She’s driving fast, fast enough that he’s sure that she won’t notice him or care enough to stop; the second it takes for him to come to this realization is enough to compose himself out of stupor.

Or so he thinks.

Celty’s horse breaks soundlessly, sudden and frightening. She takes a U-turn that would be impossible with a regular bike or car, and she rides up to Izaya’s level, body black as the night, her visor filled with smoke.

Izaya can’t find his voice for a moment. Celty’s hand breaks her phone out of the shadow suit she’s wearing, and it isn’t a second before she hands it to him with a message.

Did you set Kuzuhara after me, it says.

Izaya blinks. Then he laughs, head thrown back and throat pulsing in the cold, and though he’s not looking, he thinks he can feel Celty’s icy anger permeate the air he breathes.

She’s shaking her phone in his face, now. I knew it! You pathetic excuse for a human being, you absolute bastard—

Izaya stops reading before the end. He wipes the wetness out of the corner of his eyes and says, “All I did was take advantage of his demotion, courier. Even I don’t have control over the police.”

It wouldn’t surprise me if you did!

Another chuckle escapes him, and to his faint horror, his voice breaks on it. “I just slipped him a note about your dangerous lack of headlights. Free of charge and anonymously, of course—I don’t want him coming after me, after all.”

Celty is almost shaking with anger. It’s interesting, because Shingen has sent Izaya the results of the vivisection he did on her decades ago, and Izaya knows that she technically can’t shiver.

She’s mimicking the only human that she’s had prolonged exposure to, to facilitate communication.

Izaya has always found her poor imitation of Shinra’s mannerisms both disgusting and fascinating.

“Just put some headlights on your bike if you want to be left alone,” he says, waving his hand.

I can’t put headlights on my horse.

“Not my problem.”

Celty has smoke escaping from her neckline, just under where her helmet sits. It runs around her in a nervous circle, and then it stops, just like her shivering does. The next message on her phone reads: You look like crap.

“I do care so much about women’s approval of my appearance,” Izaya says between his teeth. Then he shuts his mouth, because he hadn’t meant to say that.

He never meant to say that to her.

Celty doesn’t seem to get it anyway, but now all of Izaya’s humor is gone. Anger sits tight and familiar in his stomach, and disgust, and though he doesn’t want to admit it, envy as well.

“You should go home,” he says coldly. “Before Shinra worries.”

Why do you care? she replies.

“I don’t want to have to listen to his whining if you’re late.” This is a lie. Shinra hasn’t called Izaya to whine in years.

Go to a hospital, too. Celty sits up on her horse. Izaya knows that she’s taller than him—or would be, if her head were attached to her neck—but somehow, like this, with her face level with his chest, she looks even more impressive. Even less human. Her body mass is indistinguishable from the shineless black of the Coiste Bodhar.

Truly monstrous.

“Have a nice day, courier,” he says, turning his back to her.

He can’t keep the envy out of his voice anymore.