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Stranger Days α – Patient's Polka

May 5th, Tohoku Region, Unknown Hospital.

“Mr. Orihara, it's time for your check-up.”

The voice of a young nurse resounds through the hospital room.

A white hospital room, with a slightly sweet scent – of flowers or fruit perhaps – mingling amongst the smell of assorted medical products.

This is my private room, so that smell must be a get-well gift for the patient next-door.

The young man lying on the bed – Izaya Orihara – determines the origin of that sweet scent, as he quietly stirs awake.

Ah, that's right.

This is a hospital, huh.

Izaya looks to the unfamiliar nurse in front of him, and begins to confirm his self-induced state.

“Nurse, would you happen to have the time?”

“Umm, looks like it's about 9PM. Ah, I'm going to change your IV bag, ok?”

The female nurse proceeded to briskly roll up the sleeves of Izaya's hospital garb, check the state of his needle, and set about changing his bag of IV fluid.

Upon seeing the state he was in, Izaya remembered a deep pain near his stomach.

Izaya squinted as he endured the intense pain, but made no sound.

He had recalled clearly, just how he managed to fall to this point.

It was around 24 hours prior to now.

He had been stabbed by someone, and collapsed in the middle of a certain Tohoku city. The next thing he knew, he was already lying on top of this bed.

This must have been his third check up since then, or was it the fourth?

The police had arrived sometime before dawn.

The patient with the slashed stomach looked up at the nurse changing his IV bag, and remembered his conversation with the detectives.

To the detectives who asked Izaya questions about this and that, he merely insisted that 'I thought I had just suddenly bumped into someone, then I looked down and blood was spurting out of my stomach.'

The detectives asked for trivial details, like his background, but from the start they had been calling him 'Mr. Orihara', so they must have at least known his details to some degree before conducting the interview.

He was out on a walk by himself, as he was wont to do, and 'some lunatic slasher' suddenly attacked him.

Izaya adamantly continued to assure the detectives that this was the truth.

“Please, not for me, but for the sake of those who live in this town – so that they can live here in safety – please quickly catch that lunatic.”

In retrospect, perhaps he shouldn't have been grinning so widely while he said all of this.

Izaya Orihara knew the assailant, not as “an unknown somebody”, but as a man called Jinnai Yodogiri.

Of course, this was because the man had taken the time to call Izaya and tell him so, before stabbing him.

However, he didn't tell that part of the story to the detectives.

He wanted to avoid any stupid commotion that might ensue when they asked about his relation to that man. Also he didn't believe that Jinnai was the type of guy to be so easily caught by the police.

Izaya had thought he might be able to get away with his 'innocent victim' act, but he had no way to confirm if that business district had CCTV cameras installed, or if there were any witnesses.

If he made a bad move under those circumstances, things could get hairy later on if he was found out.

But of course, it was too late to worry about that.

Izaya's mouth formed a bitter smile as he remembered the looks that the detectives were giving him.

It was not the look of a person feeling sympathy for a poor victim. It was the ever vigilant gaze of an unrelenting hunter.

I can probably assume that this means they found the knife in the hidden pocket of my coat.

The detectives hadn't brought it up, but if it came to it, they could likely charge Izaya for breaking the Arms Control Law.

He may have presently been playing the victim, but that didn't change the fact that in the eyes of the police, he was a suspicious character.

I guess I should get out of this place tonight.

He had learnt about the state of his wounds during the very first check up.

Miraculously, there were no significant injuries to any internal organs. For now, there is no way to tell whether the attacker was aiming for them or not.

If I'm unlucky, I might end up owing a debt to Shinra for the first time in a while...

Izaya's face formed a sickly, bitter smile as he imagined leaving the care of his wounds in the hands of that friend of his, the underground doctor.

Not even that guy can tell the future.

Upon thinking this far, it looked as though the nurse had finished her check up.

“Ok, I'm all done now. You're looking a lot better, at this rate we should be able to discharge you fairly soon.”

Izaya returned a businesslike smile to the young, smiling nurse.

“Well that's a shame isn't it? This hospital's service is so cosy I'd started to hope that I might be able to stay for a little longer.”

“Complimenting me won't get you anywhere, you know. At any rate, I wonder if you're recovering so quickly because you're young... You were so lively, even on the day after you were stabbed with a knife!”

“That's all thanks to you and the other staff.”

Even though he showed a smile on the outside, inside, Izaya was far from serene.

Naturally, he was still feeling pain from the wound, but it was the words of the nurse that brought that man's face back into his mind.

In this world, there are even monsters like him, who can only be stabbed about 5 millimetres deep.

As he thought about that old friend of his, who always wears a bartender uniform, he casually queried the nurse.

“Come to think of it, when I was stabbed, was there anything about it on the news, or in the paper?”

“....Mm. Now that you ask, I think I remember seeing something on 'We're Rolling! Morning News'. On that TV King channel. I'm pretty sure your name even came up... Is that a problem?”

“... I see. No problem, I just thought that I may have worried somebody.”

TV King, huh?

TV King, the local broadcast station for the Empire TV Corporation.

'We're Rolling! Morning News' is one of Empire TV's nationally broadcast news shows.

Upon confirming that his news had flowed all across eastern Japan, Izaya had one immediate concern.

So...

If I assume that this news was broadcast this morning...

Those who are fastest to mobilise, should be arriving here any time now...

♂♀

May 6th, 2AM

The hospital after lights-out, was frighteningly quiet.

Here, Izaya lay on his bed, quietly waiting.

Well then.

Who will it be?...

Or was my intuition off the mark?

Everything that Izaya had caused before he had been stabbed floated into his mind.

Supplying information to that Russian duo, while really trying to use them to get rid of two monstrous hindrances. Creating hostility between that bartender uniformed beast and the Awakusu Famiglia, and trying to remove the demon-blade-wielding girl from the stage completely.

Simultaneous to this plan, he was had also been flickering around between the Awakusu Famiglia, Asuki Group and varying gangs, like a bat.

Some people may have even been aware of the way that he used the granddaughter of the Awakusu Famiglia boss.

Aside from all of this, in his work as an Information Broker, he had provoked a lot of grudges against himself in the past. All while taking hold of the weaknesses of countless amounts of people.

In essence, this man could never create anything himself.

In essence, the Information Brokers usually used by police or underground organisations are likely the barkers at a cabaret club, or the bodyguard of a bar.

Mostly, they are people who work in occupations that allow them to naturally acquire information, like shady hostess clubs, and treat information brokerage as a kind of side-job.

But Izaya is not like them.

He would connect all of those 'part-time' brokers, and sometimes even control them himself, and turn all of the information of that city into network almost like a spider's web.

He would manipulate that web, and all of the information within it, in order to stir the atmosphere of the city.

This man could never create anything himself.

But, he could make money.

Izaya understood.

He understood that what he did – passing around rumours and then demanding money for them – was a vile line of work.

He also knew that this world was teeming with people even more despicable, who would rejoice in handing over money to somebody like him, just to hear the weaknesses.

This was simply his way of living. It was not, however, his entire goal in life.

Izaya Orihara's goal in life was simple – To love all human beings.

In his own way, in a way that only he could appreciate.

Now then, I wonder who it will be...

In this dim hospital room, lit only by what leaked in from under the door, and the stars in the window. In this completely silent place, the young man broke into a broad smile.

Maybe he will be the first to come running over here after seeing the news.

Thinking about that monster in the bartender's vest only brought about unpleasant memories, but his expression softened nonetheless.

It might be nice if he came raging through the hospital and ended up spending years behind bars for his heinous crimes...

That is, if I survive of course.

If not him, then perhaps Anri Sonohara?

She could probably eviscerate me easily while I'm like this.

Or maybe somebody unexpected, like Masaomi Kida, or Namie Yagiri will be the first?

Possibly those two Russians?

I can't rule out the possibility of a bullet from the Awakusu being my first visitor, either...

Of course, if nobody came, that in itself would be acceptable. I'd have to savour my good luck.

Izaya's heart was fluttering with excitement, like that of a child on the day before an excursion.

The injury to his stomach throbbed in sync with his rising heartbeat, but even that pain was only serving to spice up the situation even further for him right now.

After an hour of this had passed, when even Izaya was finally starting to feel drowsy, a certain strange noise entered his ears.

They've come.

It was not the sound of the night-shift nurse, but the fine footsteps of somebody trying to keep their existence unknown.

However they were not able to completely erase their own sound, and it resounded in Izaya's ears as a pleasant rhythm.

Who will it be?

If it were him, he wouldn't be sneaking around like this, and that Russian duo would never make a sound in the first place.

In that case, it must be someone from the Awakusu, or perhaps the Masaomi kid.

As Izaya thought this, the door to his hospital room slowly opened.

And then, a shadow slowly wriggled its way into the room.

?

A girl with a dark shadow covering her face appeared.

Despite the dark downcast look on her face, the girl gazed intensely at Izaya, who was bathed in the starlight.

“I've finally... Found you...”

In response to this girl with an expression filled with complicated emotions: hatred, and the joy of finally encountering her enemy.

“Umm... Ah...”

Izaya tilted his head to the side, and murmured in a deeply confused sounding voice.

“...... Who are you?”