Kriminalist

Chapter Thirty-One: A Lesson in What Must Be Done Part C

NEAR

“Matsuda-san? Are you listening to me?” I ask seriously, not even twirling my hair for a moment to put across just how serious I am.

Matsuda nods blankly, and then carries on rearranging the files on his desk.

“Matsuda…” I hesitate, and, though I hate to do it (being unaware of what sort of places Matsuda has been recently, and of what sort of dirt might be on his clothes), I pull on his arm to make him stop moving around. “You have to listen, this is very important.”

“I am listening, Near-san.” Matsuda replies patiently, pausing only for a moment. “But really, I’d prefer to continue working.”

I sigh. I do not understand. Aizawa suggested that the best thing to do would be to give Matsuda some leave to cope with his loss. Gardening leave, he called it. I do not see why he should be given this, since, after all, people die every day, and this is a very dangerous case, and the probability of dying is probably as much as fifty per cent or even higher for the average person walking on the street. However, Aizawa assures me it is for the best so that he can recover his mental powers and not make any mistakes while doing his part of the investigation.

Yet here is Matsuda, telling me he would rather stay and continue working. He writes down the names from the news reports in an almost mechanical way, but since he is able to write them with no mistakes I do not see why we should fear for his sanity. It is beyond me why Aizawa should insist so much.

I leave Matsuda to his own work and return to mine. So long as he does what he is supposed to do it makes no difference to me whether he stays or not. Besides, there are more pressing matters.

Firstly, the death of Yamamoto raises real concerns over the safety of our investigation team. It is true that Yamamoto died outside of the headquarters, but we have no way of knowing exactly when his name was written into the Death Note of the new Kira. For all we are aware, he could have infiltrated this very office. But who? No, there are too few leads to go on yet, there is no prime suspect as there was with Light Yagami. But we must begin from the top.

A fact we are sure of is that Kira needs to know names and faces in order to kill. But as we have also previously learned, the Shinigami eyes would allow Kira to learn the name from the face, and so there is no need to jump to the conclusion that Kira has access to police personnel files or knows the team personally. It is also true that the new Kira would only need to view Yamamoto from afar - on a bus, perhaps, or from amongst a crowd - in order to discover his name. Thus, Kira, having discovered the location of our headquarters, need only lay in wait outside in order to learn one by one the names of our investigators. In light of this, Matsuda is probably the most at risk.

However, this is conjecture and may not in fact be true; it is important to remember also that Yamamoto was a school-friend of Light Yagami’s back when the original case began, and that his rise to his current position was not undocumented. A true Kira fan may well have noticed Yamamoto’s previous school and the fact that he now works under Aizawa, who will most certainly have been noticed as the new Chief. This line of thought, however, only begs the question of why Aizawa is still alive, while Yamamoto is not; why the previous members of the task force - Matsuda and the others, Mogi and his comrades - have not also been killed by the Death Note.

This is a conundrum, one that I must think hard to solve; building a small card tower I think it over carefully, feeling the frustration of wondering whether L would have solved the case by now. There just aren’t enough clues. We must start with the only lead we have - the mafia boss. But where is Mello, with the information we need?

At this moment my tower-building is interrupted, by some frustrating reports. More criminals are dead. When will we stop this new Kira? He is clearly inferior to the old one, and yet… we still fail to grasp his identity.

MATT

So many suspicions run through my head. I’ve been trying to work it out. The only people who knew about Yamamoto’s identity, the only people who knew where Mello was going and that he was undercover, where the people in this room. Yet, it seems that Kira has managed to get hold of both of these pieces of information and exploit them to his own advantage. But how?

I spend hours thinking about every member of the team - because just how much can we trust each other, anyway? How do we know that no one is passing on information to other sources? Not just Kira, but the CIA, other members of the Japanese police force, even MI5? Any member of the team could be corrupt or a double agent, any member of the team could be passing on information to corrupt sources. But why would they endanger their own lives? After facing off against Kira the first time, we all know how easily those who trust Kira can die, and there’s nothing to say that this Kira isn’t exactly the same as the first.

But somehow I don’t buy it. How could I even begin to suspect these people, many of whom I’ve worked with since the Kira case in different situations? Not one of them faltered the first time around. They had the chance to cut and run and yet here they are, back for another helping. They are working on the most dangerous case possibly in the history of the world, and they remain strong and loyal every day. No, I can’t suspect them. But then how did the information leak?

Then I get to thinking about one of L’s old files. He had written, before the first Death Note was found, about some kind of supernatural force that could see all without being seen. At that time it was guesswork, but of course he was right; the Shinigami were watching all the time, and it was that that gave Light Yagami part of his advantage. The new Kira must have a Shinigami, too; so where is it? With him, or… with us?

The thought chills me to the bone, and it makes me realise how fragile my perceived safety up here is. Just because I’m not in the investigation room doesn’t mean it’s not known that I’m here. Obviously I’m not in England, as I should be, and a simple flight check would be all that was needed to ascertain that I didn’t get on that plane. Kira isn’t stupid, Kira can’t be stupid or he wouldn’t last three seconds without being caught - he, or she, or it, whoever it is now. The idea of being watched by something makes me shiver, and then I think of something else that makes me feel even worse.

The Death Note that we had, during the original investigation - didn’t it say in the rules that - a human who has used it would go neither to Heaven or to Hell? Well, what does that mean, really? A state of nothingness… what is that? Could it possibly be read as meaning that the human becomes a Shinigami themselves? Could that be it?

Could it be that somewhere in this building Light Yagami is watching us all, evolved into a monster worthy of a boss battle? Could it be that he never really left, never really stopped being Kira?

MELLO

Oh, shit. Shit, shit, shit. I knew this would happen. No, I knew it could happen. If I had known for sure I wouldn’t even have gone undercover. But… shit. I was afraid of this.

I don’t know where I am. The last thing I remember seeing was Joey Guiseppi’s fist, and believe me, that guy packs a punch. My head is aching. Everything is dark, and when I go to put my hands to my head I realise they are tied tightly behind me. I’m on a chair, and when I call out the noise echoes in a really not very encouraging way. I struggle to contain my emotions, thinking things through. I don’t know where I am but I do know that it’s probably not a good idea for me to remain here, so the first thing to do is to get myself untied and out of this chair.

The binding around my wrists is rope, which is an encouraging sign. If it had been handcuffs I’d have been stuck, but at least this way I can try to work my way out. It’s hard, but I have nothing better to do.

I don’t know how much time has passed when the door at the other end of the room I’m in cracks open, allowing the thinnest stream of light and cool air. It’s night time outside, but the moon is full. Arik the Viking’s burly frame is silhouetted just for a moment, and then his shadowy face is leaning right into mine.

“Good evening, Princess.” He says. “How was your sleep?”

“Fuck you.” I spit, starting as I mean to go on. “Let me go.”

“Hmmm…” Arik straightens, looks around as if thinking, and then bends down again. “No. Sorry, but you’re staying here.”

Shit. At least I can try to get some information out of him, but he’s playing it very cool tonight. He doesn’t seem to be at all flustered.

“And where is here?” I ask, after a small pause.

“This, my friend, is an abandoned warehouse. Oh!” He raises a hand to his mouth in mock self-admonition. “I shouldn’t say ‘friend’, should I, hmm? Because you aren’t our friend at all. You’re Mello, friend of L… whoever that is.”

“How do you know my name?” I ask, beginning to feel more and more unnerved.

“Tsk, tsk. I don’t know your name, do I, Mello? That’s just the stage name you hide behind. But if you must know, I found it from a very… reliable source. Kira himself.”

“Kira.” I mutter, bitterly, feeling hatred rise up inside of me like a wave.

“Oh, yes. The Lord of the new world himself. He will be very pleased to know you’re here. Especially when your pathetic friends start to look for you.”

“What would he know about it? We caught every other Kira.”

“You did, didn’t you? You and your little Scooby gang. But you see, the new Kira has a rather large advantage on all of you. He’s on the inside, you know, somewhere you’d never expect him to be. You probably look right through him a hundred times a day without realising what you’re seeing. Of course, it doesn’t matter for you to know this now; it’s too late for you to be of use to anyone.”

“You underestimate me.” Mello snapped, thinking, if he’s going to kill me here then at least I can anger him and make it quick.

“Really? I don’t believe so. There’s no way for you to get out of here. At any rate, even if your friends find out where you are there’s no way they can help you. This little warehouse is my pride and joy, you know. It’s unassailable.”

“It’s just a warehouse.” I scoff. “That’s no problem for the investigation team.”

“Ahhh, now you underestimate me.” Arik gives me a sinister smile, and moves closer to the door. “Do you see all these wires?”

I nod, reluctantly.

“These are special little things called tripwires. If anyone tries to open this door, or get in through any other way, they will be tripped. And when they are tripped, they will cause something very, very special to happen. Can you guess what that is, Mello?”

He comes closer to me again, and I flinch away as he grips hold of my chin, to hiss right into my face.

“A very, very, very large explosion will engulf this entire warehouse - and you - and anyone who just happens to be stood nearby.”

He straightens again, letting go, and starts to laugh.

“So you’ll forgive me for not hanging around, Mello! Enjoy your last hours, won’t you? I hear your friends are very quick - I suspect they’ll even find you before you starve to death. You see -” He pauses, now in the doorway again, nothing but a black silhouette - “That’s what happens when you cross Arik the Viking.”

The door slams shut, and plunges me into darkness again. The burns on my face and shoulder seem alive again tonight, burning with their old intensity. All I can think of is fire. Engulfing me. Burning me alive. Not again, Lord. No. Not again. Please. Any death but this one. Heavenly Father, please. Not the fire.

Not even trying to stop the tears that roll down my face, for the first time in many years I begin to pray.


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