Kriminalist

Chapter Thirty-Four: A Lesson in What Must Be Done Part F

MATT

Alright, Matty boy. Stay calm now. So the guy you love is in a warehouse rigged with bombs that could blow him skyward, so what? This isn’t even a boss level, you’ve faced worse than this. Come on now, stay focused.

“Alright,” I say, taking a deep breath. “I want you to listen very closely and carefully to what I say. First of all, we need to locate the bombs.”

“They’re on the ceiling.” Mello’s muffled voice is hopeless, resigned. “I can’t reach them.”

“That’s alright.” I reply, trying to reassure him. “We don’t need to reach them. We can deal with this. Just do everything as I tell you to and don’t panic, alright? Can you do that?”

There is a pause, and then Mello replies, “Yes.”

So we start. Sometimes I’m really glad we were involved in all that illegal stuff before we turned detective. It’s reassuring, knowing how to open locks and hack security cameras and disarm bombs. It means you can get out of nearly any situation, especially if you’re a smooth talker (though that’s more Mells’ department than mine). I talk him through it, slowly and steadily, relying on wire colours and a sharp piece of metal from a broken chair, taking our time because time could well be all we have. Then it’s done and there’s only one way to know whether it worked or not.

“Mells,” I say, my hand on the door, just getting ready to open it, “Just in case we die… I love you, right?”

“Yeah, I love you too, Matt.”

“And, you know, for the record, it’s almost better this way, if we both die at once, together.”

“I know. But… I think we’ve still got a few years of happiness left owed to us, at least.”

“Yeah.” I take a deep breath, wipe my hand on my leg to dry my palms and steady myself. “Well, here goes.”

I turn the handle and push the door inwards, holding my breath all the while, and look into Mello’s pale and worried face, and let the breath out in a great sigh of relief. We did it. He’s safe.

The first thing we do, for a long time, is just to hold each other, almost crying, just feeling happy to be together and to be alive on a day like this. But the world doesn’t stop turning, not even for a perfect romance story. It has to go on, and so we can’t stay that way forever. There’s a case that needs solving.

“We’d better get back to headquarters,” I tell Mello. “I kind of left without permission, and besides which, I think I know who Kira is.”

“You do?!” Mello’s surprise is almost hurtful, except that I know he’s just surprised at himself for not also knowing.

“I think so.” I reply. “Just like L, you know? I’m ninety-nine per cent certain.”

“But by one per cent, you could be wrong.”

“Exactly. So come on, let’s go find some proof, yeah?”

We head back to the bemused taxi driver - whose meter has run up quite a cost by now - and head back into the heart of Tokyo, drinking in every sight and sound as if we’ve never seen them before. Every near miss is like a rebirth. Being in the kind of work where death is a frequent occupational hazard, you get to appreciate life and everything it brings. Tokyo today is like a jewel.

At headquarters, Near is waiting for us in a not-particularly-worried kind of way, as I suppose we expected. He certainly didn’t send anyone out after me, though I suspect he knew as soon as I was gone. Everyone is working in the investigation room as normal, as if nothing has happened. Why should they think that anything has?

When we enter the room, though, looking tired and, in Mello’s case, a little grubby, all work ceases, and the members of the team look at us and then greet us with unconcealed astonishment. Most of them didn’t even know I was still in Japan. But I watch carefully, looking for the telltale signs of guilt in the one I suspect.

In the taxi on the way over I explained it all to Mello without telling exactly who, and he thinks I’m right. He said it matches up to what Arik told him. I don’t know if he’ll feel the same way when he hears who I’m about to accuse, but we’ll see.

“There’s no time for explanations right now.” I say, cutting through a hubbub of questions that have risen up around us. “We have something important to deal with. We have found out the true identity of Kira.”

I’m carefully flick my eyes around the room as I speak, resting on my suspect for just a moment; and in that moment I see the barest flicker of fear. I’m right. I have to be.

“Then who is it?” Near asks in a dull tone, as if expecting me to give him a ridiculously unfounded answer and embarrass myself. No such luck, Near.

“The new Kira is one of us.” I announce, confidently. “I have the evidence - and he knows I have taken it, because he has been unable to find it in the place where he left it. The new Kira is Matsuda Touta.”

MATSUDA

It’s all over. Itsuki, Light, forgive me. I have failed.

There is silence in the investigation room. I know I am caught. He has the papers. There is no sense in denying it, says the voice that follows me, and it is right.

“Matsuda?” Aizawa asks, and I turn my eyes towards him, almost numb now that the reckoning has come.

“Yes.” I admit. “It’s true.”

“But - Yamamoto - !” Lidner bursts out.

“Yes.” I nod. “I killed him.”

“So you never loved him at all.” Mello says, dangerously low, glaring at me with intense hatred. But he is wrong. I sigh, knowing I must explain myself fully before they will understand.

“Let me tell you from the beginning.” I say. “I don’t wish to be misunderstood. At first I was just a normal member of the police force, trying to forget about Kira and all that horror. But then I found a Death Note on the doorstep of my home.”

“Your doorstep?” Near repeats. “So it was left there for you?”

“So it seems.” I nod, then hesitate, glancing behind me at the figure looming in the corner of the room, holding the Death Note it gave to me. “My… shinigami was very particular that I should be the one to use it.”

“Is he here, now?” Matt asks, and I nod, but I know what he will ask and it cannot be allowed.

“I don’t have any pages left. He keeps them. So I’m sorry, but I can’t help you to see him.”

“Continue with the story.” Near tells me, like an impatient child, and I nod.

“As soon as I saw it, I was inspired. I had always agreed with Light’s vision of a better world. I wanted to carry on his work, to do it properly. I wanted to fight crime in a way that my own detective skills would never allow. I wanted to make everything safe! Especially now that I had Itsuki - Yamamoto to you - and I knew that more than anything, I wanted to protect my loved ones. So I started. Then when Matt was supposed to go to England, I brought him back and showed him to the secret rooms upstairs. That’s when you started to find the letters, right? On the chess pieces and apples and cards… it was his idea. My shinigami’s. He told me what to write on them and how to keep them clean. We planted them together, and then since he didn’t show up on the cameras anyway he showed me how to loop the footage and hide myself. That’s how we planted them. We wanted to scare you, to make you think that you weren’t safe any more so that you would make mistakes in the investigation.

“But all the time, I was killing. Every evening I would write a little note on the bottom of a sheet of Death Note paper, with a date, that was the right amount of time away from when I would be writing down the names. In this way, as I wrote down the names of criminals from the news programs and noted the time that the program was shown, I condemned them all to die on the same day at the same time. That was another part of his plan to scare you, because you would find so many deaths at once that it might overwhelm you, instead of one death every hour or so on.

“Then I had to pass the names over to you, Chief Aizawa. This was simple. First I folded over the edge so that the note I had written could not be seen, and then I faxed it to you, with the pretext of creating a second copy so we both could refer back to older sheets. After the deaths had taken place I carefully ripped this edge off and threw it away, so that the evidence was no longer visible. You never touched the Death Note paper or saw the dates, so you never suspected a thing. I locked the paper into the drawer of my desk to keep them safe from prying eyes, though I see that this was no useful precaution against Matt.”

“And Yamamoto?” Mello demands. “If you did all of this to protect him, why did you kill him? You make no sense.”

I sigh, misery enveloping me again. “Having to kill Itsuki is my greatest regret.” I say quietly. “I miss him very much each day, knowing we will never be together again. But by this time I had realised that the cause of Kira is bigger than me or Itsuki or Light Yagami or L. It is for the good of the entire world. Once Itsuki discovered my secret he would not listen to me or my justifications. He demanded that I hand myself in, and if I did not he would arrest me. It took me just a moment to write down his name. I… I genuinely grieved him. Please do not believe that my love for him was anything less than real and absolute. Just as I have sacrificed my soul for the Death Note, so I sacrificed him for the greater good.”

“The greater good.” Matt repeats, sounding sickened. “How is murder ever for the greater good?”

I keep silent as the others begin to discuss things over my head. My shinigami is approaching closer, but he knows as well as I do that I can no longer help him.

“Matsuda.” Matt says suddenly, with a note of gravity and finality in his voice. “I want you to listen very carefully and answer this question with as much honesty as you can. For the sake of Itsuki, tell me. Was Light Yagami involved in this in any way?”

I glance behind me at the shinigami, but I already know what he is writing. I have no time to answer. I look imploringly around the room, but already I feel the signs: the pain in my arm, breathlessness, my chest pounding as if to break. It will break. I fall but do not feel the floor.

MELLO

We all know, all of us, that there is no point in trying to bring Matsuda back, but Aizawa tries anyway. I guess as a policeman it’s a natural instinct. But there’s no coming back from a Death Note heart attack.

Near is staring at the body, no expression on his face except a small, almost unnoticeable amount of chagrin. We’ve beaten him, that’s why. Not because Matsuda was Kira or because it was under his nose or because he died before justice could be done, but because we beat him. That’s Near for you. Childish little fucker.

I’m not gonna rub his face in it, though. He knows and we know and everyone in this room knows that we beat him. That we’re better than him. In fact, my keeping quiet about it should wind him up even more, being such a humble action and all. And the world is safe, hurray hurray. The strangest thing about a victory like this is that no one will report our names or announce our success. The Kira fear will slowly ebb away, as before. People will begin to forget, as before. Nothing has really changed in the world. No matter what temporary punishment is introduced, as soon as it is taken away, people will behave just as they always did. That’s why someone like Kira could never last.

No matter what happens now, though, it’s over here. The case is solved, and Kira is gone, for now at least. I sling an arm around Matt’s shoulder, pulling his attention away from what is now a crime scene.

“Hey, Matty babe,” I say, grinning my extra-special cheesiest grin, “Wanna go home?”


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