Kriminalist

By Rhiannon D'Averc

Mystery / Romance

Chapter Twenty-Four: A Lesson in Hiding Part B

NEAR

Clearly there is something not quite correct about the investigation so far. Although we are working very hard we seem to find no results. Now, we find things being taken beyond our control. This is not the kind of investigation I had intended to run.

With my rude awakening thanks to Mello, I find myself in the investigation room once more, despite it’s being still the hours of darkness. He has relayed to me all that he knows about Matt’s disappearance, and although I at first suspected foul play on his behalf, I am now more than convinced that his worry is genuine. To a certain extent, however, this is distressing: I would rather it were a childish prank designed to catch me out than a real threat.

“You are sure he did not give any indication that he would go elsewhere?” I ask, making certain of this point.

“No. I mean… he was angry, of course he was angry! But he did what I asked him to all the same. It’s Matt! It’s not like he would join the Dark Side just because he was angry with me!”

“That is not what I was implying. Nevertheless,” I sigh, twisting a strand of hair around my finger, “We will deal with this. I will set Gevanni to track him down. He is very capable and you can rest assured that he will do his best.”

“What if his best isn’t good enough?” Mello spits. Always so vitriolic. “I want to do it myself.”

“Out of the question, M.” I say calmly. “You will only get yourself captured by Kira and further jeopardise the investigation.”

Mello growls angrily, like some sort of beast. He must learn to calm down. “Another thing, Near. Don’t fucking call me M, and stop leaving me little L hints. That apple was not appreciated.”

“Apple?” I ask, choosing to ignore the rest of his speech.

“You know what I’m talking about, don’t play dumb.”

“I’m afraid I do not, Mello. Perhaps you could enlighten me.”

“You left this apple on my bed.” He says, producing a small plastic bag from inside a pocket. He drops it onto the coffee table and an apple, half-eaten, rolls out, with an ‘L’ carved upon the back.

“Very curious.” I say, picking it up and examining it. “It seems whoever did this has strong teeth. A man, I would assume from the jaw width. An adult, probably in his twenties to thirties.”

Realisation dawns on Mello’s face, though it is not pleasant to see a man struggle with his inner vaults of hatred, even when he does so to admit that you are innocent. “So it wasn’t you?”

“No, Mello, I’m afraid not. For now I don’t believe it necessary to worry the other members of the team about this; perhaps it was a one-off prank by Matsuda or his friend, Yamamoto. I will attempt to discover its origin. In the meantime please return to your rooms for now, and carry on as normal when the sun rises. This team has enough to worry about already.”

Mello hates taking orders from me, I know this, but he nods grimly and leaves all the same. I suppose I should be glad for that. Sweeping the apple into a drawer, I return to my own desk and open the file I had been using previously.

It is not what I am expecting. There on top of all the other papers is a playing card, a King of Hearts to be precise, and it is not in a usual state. A neat cut has been made, one stroke of a well-sharpened scissor blade as I judge it, across the jugular of the King. Upon the King’s head, removed as it is, is a crudely painted ‘L’ in red paint. Adding insult to injury, it appears that this is actually part of a pack that belongs to me, which I will now not be able to use. It seems our troubles have just begun.

MATT

When I woke up Matt was already pacing across his room on the screen, seemingly having been awake for a while. I wonder what woke him. I don’t have time to go back through the tapes, though; he was probably just worrying about that apple, and besides, I have work to do. Important work. If I can find some crucial information then Mello will forgive me for coming back, because it will have been worth it, and then he’ll let me stay. I have to keep going through the archived files. There must be something, however small, that will tell me why Yagami killed L at that particular point; why he felt so threatened. I am sure that L must have been very close to discovering some kind of proof.

Today I start work on a big box I found hidden under a desk. It rattles when I move it, and opening it I find out why. Right on top is a pair of handcuffs with a strangely long chain between them; I realise that this must be the pair that L used to chain himself to Light Yagami. His murderer. The thought makes me sick. I pick up the handcuffs and examine either side, trying to find a difference in them that might tell me who was on which side, that might tell me something about Yagami. There’s nothing. It even seems as if they were cleaned after they were used, and I wonder why. Wammy’s thoroughness, I suppose; he couldn’t allow many things to stay dirty for long, even if they were evidence.

At about lunchtime I take a break and watch the others eating on the screen. They all look so serious, so determined. Aside from Matsuda, of course, and his perpetual cheerfulness. I watch him steal Yamamoto’s glasses right off his face and wear them, laughing, while the rest of the team either ignore him or roll their eyes. It’s as if he does it all solely for his own amusement, or just doesn’t realise how the others think of him. Once again I find myself wishing life were that simple.

I go into the kitchen of my own floor and open the fridge, trying to decide what to eat out of the stuff Matsuda bought for me on the way back here. I pick up a jar of peanut butter, and behind it is something that shouldn’t be there. I pick it up hesitantly, wondering how it got there and why. A white chess piece - a pawn - with the letter ‘G’ painted onto it in red paint? Is this… Near’s? I know he has more than one chess set down there, and I’m sure I’ve seen this style of piece in his possession before… Does he know I’m up here? Is he trying to, what, psych me out or something?

Screw that, I’m not playing ball. Come to think of it, it was probably him who planted the apple in Mello’s room, and then reset the cameras. I’m not going back down there until I have my magic ticket - the information. Until then he can keep his stupid little taunts, and enjoy thinking they’re clever.

MELLO

I’m sick of Near. Really sick of him and his attitude. He clearly doesn’t give a fuck that Matt is missing. I don’t think he believes me about the apple either, the fucker. Well, he’s going to have to now, because I’ve found another one.

I can’t have been gone for more than half an hour. There was no one else in the corridor, no movement at all. Everyone is still asleep or at their own homes. And yet when I got back into the bedroom after our little chat, there was another apple on the covers of the bed. It was wooden this time, rosewood, carved with a smooth letter ‘D’. It doesn’t seem to make sense. ‘L’ I understood, but ‘D’?

Why those particular letters? Why are they aimed at me? How could they have got in here? Who put them there? What are they supposed to mean? Is it just a decoy, like the message the first Kira sent to L, or is it something more sinister? A threat? I think back and suddenly remember the note that Light Bastard Yagami had left for me - Each bite brings you closer to death - and wonder if they are somehow linked. And if they are, then either the person who is doing this knows about the notes somehow, or… wrote them. But I can’t think about that possibility. It simply isn’t a possibility. Light Bastard Yagami is six feet under, right where he belongs.

I pace until the sun comes up, trying hard to think. I need to find Matt and I need to catch the new Kira and I need to figure out what these apples mean, but it’s all going round in my head and all I can really think of is Matt. His voice, his taste, his smell. What if he really has been captured? Or killed? What if Kira found out his name? I can’t help thinking that I should be out there, doing something, trying to help. But I’m stuck in this place, behind all the security, unable to leave and do what I need to do. I hope, wherever he is, he understands why I haven’t gone to get him already. I hope he understands it’s not because I don’t love him any more.

Eventually it’s time to go through to the investigation room. I try to act normal, pretend nothing has happened, but it’s hard. Every time the phone rings I expect it to be a ransom demand or news of Matt’s body being found. I can hardly take this. I need to know he’s safe.


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