Chapter Twenty-Nine: A Lesson in What Must Be Done Part A
I step out of the car and onto the dusty Tokyo pavement, taking a deep breath of the outside air. The taxi driver doesn’t even turn off the engine as I hop out, dragging my suitcase behind me, and as soon as I pay him his measly fare he zooms off into the crowded streets. Obviously he does not think much to staying around in this area, when there are paying customers elsewhere.
I look up at the building I am going to be staying in for the duration of my time with the Mafia; not the entirety of the building, but a one-bedroom flat some four storeys above where I stand. Because of course, I am a fan of stairs.
The stairs in question smell like piss, and my suitcase drags annoyingly behind me. It’s full of chocolate, leather, and a bottle of whiskey that I made Near buy me as part of my condition of putting my life even more on the line than it already was. It’s a little frustrating to think that back in LA we were raking in dollars by the thousands, living our in own private mansion, and now here I am, back where I started.
Oh, the Mafia. How I’ve missed all the danger. The broken windows and TV dinners, because you spent all the cash from the last heist on trying to impress the boss. Guns beside the bed and a knife in your boot just in case. The thrill of the chase. I can’t say that I’m entirely regretting the decision to come back, if I’m honest, I kind of enjoy it.
I don’t bother to unpack when I reach my new flat, just sling the suitcase under the bed. Thankfully it came with the furniture, or I think Near would actually have just let me sleep on the floor. I guess I can’t blame him. Even someone like Near understands that you can’t spend all of this money on high-tech equipment and expect it to never run out. He’s paying my rent, at least, so that’s something I can thank him for.
Several hours pass as I sit and wait for night to fall, running through the old routines in my head to make sure I still remember them all. This should be easy, like getting back on the horse, and who is still around to remember me from last time? I doubt even my reputation still exists.
Arik the Viking. I flick through his file one last time, and then carefully set fire to it with a lighter I stole from Matt (he won’t mind, I’m sure). It won’t help me at all to be caught with it, and there’s some pretty incriminating stuff in there. Old Arik’s only been in jail once - for petty theft, which he was let out for early on good behaviour - but the list of suspected crimes is as long as my arm. Armed robbery, extortion, murder, the usual - he’s a Mafia man through and through, but he’s keeping his hands clean enough that no one can get close to him. Which stops now.
When darkness falls I head to the restaurant owned by Arik’s brother, and take a seat at the bar, ordering a vodka to start the night off. I have to appear as a real customer, of course, but I don’t mind having a drink anyway. Before long I spot one of the men I’m after - an accomplice to the petty theft Arik was put away for, his right-hand man, known as Joey Guiseppi. Apparently he was around long before Arik took over the Mafia family, and he stayed on without any challenge to his authority - essentially making him the perfect side-kick. He’s going to be my in, but he doesn’t know it yet.
“Joey Guiseppi, right?” I slide across to him and say, putting on a slight German accent to match my looks and put him at his ease; these guys don’t really like Americans or Englishmen, but there’s a fair number of Europeans in their ranks, not least Guiseppi himself.
“That’s right. Who are you?”
“Dieter Durnström.” I lie easily. “I’m kind of new in town. Let me buy you a drink.”
Every moment that Mello is out there, I worry for him. The first time this happened I was blissfully unaware, secreted away in Wammy’s House and completely out of the loop, so although I wondered what he was up to I never really worried. But now I’m just terrified for his life. Last time he came out scarred; what if this time he comes off worse?
All I do all day is work through the old files I found - most of them completely useless to the current investigation - and wait for Mello’s first report. Once Near gets it he’ll pass the information directly to me and allow me to follow all the leads by hacking as many databases as I so wish, probably getting myself in trouble since I don’t much care for the slow and careful approach right now. By the end of the day - the time when Mello would usually come upstairs to our rooms - I’m so lonely and bored and worried I hardly know what to do with myself. I can’t find my favourite lighter, either, even though I know I left it on the bedside table. In some sort of desperate attempt to cheer myself up I start playing through the surveillance footage of the last day in the investigation room, fast-forwarding through the uninteresting hours of work and playing it at normal speed whenever it looks like something interesting is happening. Several times I’m disappointed to hear that what looks like activity is simply someone going for a coffee round, but in the end I hear something worthwhile.
On the flickering screen, Near is standing, addressing everyone. It seems that he is responding to some sort of challenge, and I rewind just a little, to see what has happened.
“Near-sama…” Yamamoto is the one to speak, with respect, as if such a respecting lexis can disguise the truth of his meaning. “Where is Mello-san?”
Near looks up, as if puzzled that such a man as Yamamoto should even speak to him in the first place unless to reveal some new lead. “He is furthering the investigation elsewhere.” He replies shortly, and returns to his previous task.
“Where is elsewhere?” Yamamoto presses. “And what is he doing to further the investigation?”
Near looks at him again, as if seeing him for the first time. “That is confidential.”
“Why is it?” Yamamoto demands. “It seems to me that you know everything about us - including our identities - and we don’t even get to know what you’re planning. Why should we trust you when you keep secrets from us?”
The rest of the team wait in stunned silence, none of them raising their voices to either stop or support Yamamoto, but every eye in the room is glued to Near’s face.
“Very well.” Near says finally. “Mello is working undercover as part of the Mafia gang that paid the bribe to Kira.”
Chaos immediately erupts. Most of the investigation team seem to feel that Mello should not be placed into such a dangerous situation, especially considering both his history with the Mafia and his value to Kira as one of the heirs of L. I fast-forward, suddenly not wanting to hear this discussion.
I get to the end of the day and the investigation room empties, so I go to stop the video; but even as I do so, someone re-enters the office. I press play quickly and watch; it’s Matsuda, and he’s left his jacket behind - such a typical Matsuda action.
As I watch, though, someone else enters, and the telltale glasses mark it out as Yamamoto. He strides over to Matsuda, who is shuffling through some of his paperwork and stuffing it into a drawer.
“Hey, Matsu, what are you doing? Hurry up, I want to get home.” Yamamoto says, and the strangeness of this hits me immediately until I remember that the two of them carpool.
“Yeah, sorry.” Matsuda replies, and then hesitates. “Why did you speak out against Near today, Itsuki?”
Ah, yes, I remember reading his file - Yamamoto’s given name is Itsuki. It’s kind of a cute name, actually. Makes him sound like a puppy.
“Because he shouldn’t keep us in the dark.” Yamamoto replies, but Matsuda shakes his head.
“But don’t you see? If Kira is on the investigation team, now he knows where Mello is.”
“If Kira was on the team we’d all be dead!”
“No, because we’re not criminals. Killing us would go against Kira’s utopia, because we are the ones who are supposed to keep justice.”
“Does it really matter? Near still needs to be honest with us.”
“I just wish you wouldn’t stir things up like that… maybe Near will grow suspicious of you and investigate privately, and then he’ll find out…”
“You’re still nervous about that?” Yamamoto sighs angrily, and pushes his glass back up his nose. “Why are you so ashamed about us?”
“I’m not ashamed, I just -”
“If you’re not ashamed then there’s no problem with anyone finding out, is there?”
“Don’t try and sweet-talk me out of this one, Matsuda.” Yamamoto snaps. “If you can’t handle people knowing that we’re in a relationship, maybe we shouldn’t be in one.”
I’m watching this with baited breath, like some kind of soap opera. It’s weird, I didn’t get any gay vibes from Yamamoto. I mean, Matsuda, sure - I’ve never seen him with a girl, anyway - but Yamamoto? This is a shocker! Matsuda stiffens visibly on the screen, and his tone turns cold, so I guess what Yamamoto said must’ve really got to him.
“Is that really how you feel, Itsuki?” He asks, not looking at the younger man.
There is a pause, and Yamamoto lets out a breath. “No. You know I want to be with you. It’s just hard when you don’t act like you feel the same.”
“I do, I promise.” Matsuda goes over to him, and enfolds him in his arms, looking him directly in the eye. “Once all of this stupid Kira stuff is finished with we’ll tell everyone, okay? I just don’t think anyone’s in the right mood for it, they’re all so stressed.”
“Alright…” Yamamoto sighs. “You win, Matsu. But if we don’t make an announcement as soon as the case is over we’re finished, and I mean that.”
“We will!” Matsuda chirps cheerfully. “Now come on, let’s get to the car. I know a nice empty little flat a few blocks away that’s just begging for some company.”
As the two of them file out, Matsuda’s arm around Yamamoto’s waist, I stop the recording and lean back, thinking this over. It’s a bombshell, and I really wish I could tell Mello. I bet he’d be really happy for them, but it’s too dangerous to just call him up over unnecessary little things. I miss him. I wonder what he’s doing right now… With a sigh, I turn off the screen I was watching and head back to a cold, empty bed, knowing it has to be like this if we want to stop a murderer.