How often does someone manage to not only get to personally know a celebrity, but to have a deep enough friendship that said celebrity would go out of their way to invite you onto the set of a film they are starring in?
"How about it?" Misa had offered, in that out-of-the-blue way of hers, her hand extended in invitation.
"R…really? You'd actually let me tag along?"
"Why not? Misa thinks you'll feel a lot better if you got out of this stuffy room and spent the day with Misa and Matsu. Misa can tell you're the kind of girl who needs a little 'me-time' after she and her man get into a spat. Distance in love is like wind to fire: blows out the weak, but feeds the strong. Misa always remembers that when she has to leave Light."
She wishes that Misa would stop referring to them as though they're in a relationship, never mind the kind Misa has with Light. Whether they are or not, she doesn't simply need a break; she needs to get as far away from that guy as possible, and never see him again. Because that isn't possible at the moment, however, she latches onto the chance to at least have a break. After all, she can't just settle for staying cooped up in her room all the time just to avoid him. Cabin fever is slowly driving her wall-scrawling insane.
"God, Misa, I can't believe you'd do this! I owe you one big time!"
"Think nothing of it. Of course, you'll have to be keep out of the way while you're there with me, and don't take too many pictures. Misa's really sorry, but the last thing Misa wants to happen is for Elin to get booted off for getting too paparazzi on everyone. Boy, back when Yoshi was Misa's manager, she would get really pissy when it came to the paparazzi."
Erin can barely hold back the chuckle bubbling in the back of her throat. "Y-you had a manager named after a dinosaur from a video game?"
"Uh-huh! Related only in name. And older than any dinosaur. Not that Misa would've ever dared to say stuff like that in front of her."
So Misa has had to put up with lousy bosses, too, just like anyone else with one. It's rather silly to feel that way, but the fact that Misa seems to trust her enough to talk about something like that warms her insides.
"Seriously, though, Misa, I don't like how you keep talking about Ryuzaki like he's my boyfriend or something. I don't even like him as a friend, much less…like that."
The idol smiles playfully at her, giving no guarantee that she will drop the subject as she lets her lead the way. She's barely succeeding at hiding it, anymore; her excuses and denials grow thinner and thinner every day. "Of course. Whatever you say."
Outside of her earshot, Misa whisper-coughs, "Tsundere."
Naturally, the filming crew had been hesitant to let an outsider with a camera in on the action, but with Misa and Matsuda's vouching, Erin is granted a chair on the corner of the lot, by the costume trailer. As the heroine of the film, Misa gets what she wants.
It's just like everything she has imagined a movie set to be like: bright, colorful, hectic, glamor in the making. She may not be as involved as she would like to be, but she'd rather not ruin it by doing something out of line. She's so excited just to be here, she's having almost painful palpitations.
"A-are you sure you're okay over here, Elin?" Matsuda asks her, watching her blow in and out into the paper fast food bag.
She stops briefly enough to wave his concerns away. "Oh yeah, I'm okay, I'm okay—huff, huff, huff—I'm just a little…I dunno, overwhelmed, I guess—huff, huff, huff—until now, I'd only dreamed about being in a place like this. Now I'm here—huff, huff, huff—and I didn't have to break my neck to make it happen. What a thing to write home about…"
Matsuda scratches his head, sheepish. "Well, uh, you might wanna take it easy. We don't want you to pass out from hyperventilation. And I think I saw a couple guys from the crew staring at you, on top of it."
Eventually, however, they do pass over a bump in the road. But the trouble is not of Erin's or Matsuda's doing, for once.
Her co-star, Hideki Ryuga (the idol, not the cuckoo clock who went by that name while on campus) looks quite a bit like him, only more cleaned up, dressed as the heartthrob he's cast to be, half-open shirt and all. For a moment, Erin wonders whether the likeness had had anything to do with the reason he had ripped off his alias from this guy. To protect himself and all that jazz. Did he have this nutty idea that on the off-chance Kira somehow found him and tried to kill him, he'd slip up and kill the star out of confusion instead, or something?
Ugh. What a bastard. That's why she's not speaking to him right now.
He's standing over by the fountain—cast in a tender gold light to accentuate the mood of the scene—with Misa, who is dressed as an angel, with the immaculate white gown and dove wings and white rose headband for a halo and everything. It's a little strange to Erin, to see Misa in so much white, being used to seeing her in black and stripes and spider webs and horn-like pigtails that complete her usual "cute perky devil" ensemble. But that must be one of things that make Misa so successful in her work. She is adaptable, capable of entering any scene, any persona she is required to.
Hideki's leaning over her in a slouch that reminds her vaguely of his question-mark posture, his hands on her shoulders and gazing into her eyes—blue for the occasion, thanks to color contacts—with earnest. "I love you," he whispers to her convincingly enough. "So please, don't me that you're going home now. Instead, say you'll stay by my side…"
Erin squirms a little in her seat. Not that it's any of her business, but she finds herself wondering when was the last time Light ever said such things to Misa. Maybe it's too early in their relationship for the L-word (not that that's stopped Misa from saying it almost every day), and Light's always come across to her as a reserved kind of guy, and that's not counting the slack he's had to pick up regarding a certain case due to a certain someone's feet-dragging, but…it feels off, hearing some stranger say romantic things to Misa more often in a day than her actual boyfriend has in the months they've all been together.
He inches in, lips puckered just so, aiming for the sacred first kiss of true love…
And Misa shuts him down.
She turns away from him towards the fourth wall. "Uh, Mr. Director, Misa can't do this," she blurts out, instantly shooting a poison dart into the mood. "Misa has a boyfriend; do you think we can cut the love scenes?"
"Wh-where did this come from, all of a sudden?" the assistant director demands from behind Director Nishinaka, who can only sit cross-legged in his chair with the megaphone hanging limply in his fingers, at a loss for words.
"Can't we just fake it, or something? Maybe Hideki can peck Misa on the cheek or forehead?"
"That doesn't sound very romantic," Hideki mutters. "My angel's about to go away forever, and all I'm going to do is kiss her cheek?"
"You're kidding me! How d'you expect us to make a movie like that?"
"If Misa says no, it means no! N to the O," Misa snaps with a pout.
Just like that, the crew is in a mild uproar. Matsuda glances back and forth, trying to figure what to do as Misa-Misa's manager. He hates seeing her upset, but he also hates seeing everyone else upset. Is there no middle ground for which everyone can meet on? "Oh man, I should've seen this coming from a mile away," he moans.
Erin reaches up to touch his arm, still in disbelief herself after seeing just how faithful Misa is. "Hey, I dunno if I can blame her. Even if it's acting, if I had to kiss a guy who looked like old Ryuzaki, I'd be getting cold feet, too. No offense to Ryuga, of course."
She leans back, tipping her hat out of her eyes, coming to the most immediate and appropriate answer to this quandary. "Maybe we could get a stunt double to take Misa's place for the lovey-dovey scenes? Then they can just edit it later so it looks like Misa's doing it."
"Hm, I'm not sure. Misa-Misa doesn't like using doubles. She likes doing her own stunts…wait…do you think maybe…no, that wouldn't work…would it?"
"What's up, Matsu?"
Matsuda shakes his head. "Well, I—I was thinking that maybe Ryuga could get a stunt double. Maybe have Light come over, put on a wig or something and take his place. But, I doubt Light would ever agree to do something like that…"
Erin perks up. "Aw hell, it's worth a shot, isn't it? The show must go on. You got his number, Matsu? Let's ring him up. By the sound of it, the crew's just decided to go on break for a few," she says, watching Misa flop into her chair and toss one leg over the other in a huff. For the time being, her ethereal persona is lost, and she is as human as everyone else on the set.
Light is resting his face in his hands, allowing his tired eyes a break from staring at a computer screen for how many hours when the chiming of his cell phone beckons him from the confines of his pocket. He sits up with a start, grunting to himself in mild annoyance.
"That's probably Misa," says Ryuzaki on his left side with his mouth full. "You'd better get that, or she'll simply keep calling you until you do."
"You think I don't know that?" says Light as he flips open the phone to glance at the caller ID. "Huh…it's not Misa, this time." Click. "Hello?"
"What's up, Matsuda?" he asks politely, trying not to roll his eyes, but Matsuda does have a tendency of calling them either for frivolous chit-chat or when there's a problem he can't solve by himself.
"Ah, not much. We just wanted to ask you something."
Of course. How did he guess? "Sure. What is it?"
There's a hesitant pause on the other end of the line, and Light hears muffled whispering before Matsuda continues, "Um…what do you think about coming over to be a stunt double?"
Okay, that, he did not see coming. "Excuse me? I think you need special training to be a stunt double, Matsuda. I don't have that kind of training."
"At least not in the conventional sense," mumbles Ryuzaki between bites of coffee jelly. Light pauses to scowl at his co-worker.
"Oh, see, M-Misa is having an argument with Nishinaka right now because she doesn't want to kiss Ryuga. She says that since she already has a boyfriend, she shouldn't be kissing other guys."
Ryuga? The pop idol, of course. Looks like they were both right about the issue being Misa-related. Oh, Misa, she really shouldn't have. "So wait. You're asking me to come over and be a stunt double for Ryuga and kiss Misa in his place?"
"…Y-yeah. Is that okay?"
Light closes his eyes. He answers slowly enough to hide his vexation, "Matsu, do you not notice how impractical that sounds? In every sense of the word? We're working to catch a serial killer who just needs a name and a face to kill someone, and you want me to appear on the set of a film that's probably going to be seen by thousands of people when it comes out?"
Ryuzaki concentrates on the chunk of tan-colored jelly jiggling in his spoon. While that does sound like a legitimate concern, someone working to catch Kira shouldn't have too much of a problem with appearing on film if they also happen to be Kira himself.
"B-but it's not like anyone would know it's you. I think they'd put a wig and make-up on you so you'd look like Ryuga. Kira can't kill you if he doesn't know your real face, can he?"
Besides, Kira doesn't seem like the type who would watch the kind of movies that Misa acts in. Light doesn't watch them, either.
Suddenly, there's a quiet shuffling on the other end, and someone else is speaking to Light. "Aw, come on, Light. We're not asking you to jump out of an exploding building. Just to kiss Misa; something like that shouldn't be too hard for you, you're her guy and all. This is a movie about an angel, too, so it's just gonna be a sweet and innocent thing…I think. Misa shut him down while he was moving in for the kill."
Oh. Erin. Or "Elin," as Light and Misa know her as.
"Yes, Light. Why so shy about it? You must have done it enough times for her to be so enamored with you that she would refuse to kiss another man, even if it's only pretend." Ryuzaki slips the jelly into his mouth, jiggling it around the inside of his mouth with his tongue before swallowing.
"I am not being shy," Light hisses, placing a hand over the phone as he glances again at Ryuzaki. "And don't say it like that." He turns back to speak into the phone, "I'm sorry, Elin, but I'm a little tied up at the moment. Maybe you can get a stunt double for Misa, instead?"
"Misa just called Matsuda away. I think they're gonna talk about it. Look, I know you're busy, and we totally respect that. Misa, especially. Uh, distance and wind and fire and love, and all that, like she said.
"Now I can't make you do anything, Light. And I'm not gonna try to spout an on-the-spot master thesis on why you should come over and be a stunt double for a cheesy love scene in a movie. I'm just saying that I think it would make Misa happy if you were here, just for an hour or two. Then the show can go on, and she won't have to feel bad about locking lips with another guy. Still, I give you credit for not flipping out over Misa getting cozy with other people. Shows that you're the confident, non-jealous type. That helps Misa a lot."
"Thank you," says Light. Now, if only Misa could return the favor…
"We'll call you back if anything new develops. Or, you can, you know, call us. See ya, Light!"
Light claps the phone shut and slips it in his pocket, pinching the throbbing spot between his eyes in hopes of relieving the pressure building up in his head.
"If you wanted my opinion, I would say that you should go to her," said Ryuzaki, slurping up another spoonful of gelatin.
Huh? Why would Ryuzaki, of all people…?
"I'm not going to kiss Misa in front of a hundred plus people," he hisses. "As someone who's afraid of cameras, I'm surprised that you would even suggest such a thing."
Unless he's just jumping on the opportunity to see him squirm.
"Misa has been quite supportive of you, Light. Surely, that deserves a bit of recognition on your part."
Light groans, "What would you know about something like that? You still haven't apologized to Elin for the whole laundry thing." Indeed, Ryuzaki is still wearing one of his freshly dyed green shirts from the day before, at least until Watari can get him new white ones. Light had suggested that they spare Watari the hassle and simply bleach all of the shirts back to their original color, to which Ryuzaki had replied (like the spoiled brat that he is), "It wouldn't be the same."
"I will consider it when she apologizes for ruining my laundry."
"I've already told you, Ryuzaki: I refuse to manipulate Misa's feelings towards an end, even if it's for the case. Besides, it doesn't seem to me like she really knows anything about Kira, or the Second Kira, for that matter."
When he was still Kira, he would've thought otherwise.
"There is still the evidence suggesting that she did in fact send those tapes to Sakura TV."
"But Kira may have manipulated her into doing that, which would explain why she wouldn't remember anything about it."
"You have Misa's heart, Light. She loves you very much. Are you sure you don't return the sentiments? With the way you defend her, I would almost think—"
"That's none of your business, Ryuzaki. Just because we're together 24/7, doesn't mean that every business of mine has to be yours, too. I'm just stating the facts," snaps Light, refusing to confirm or deny the accusations. The way he closes his eyes and sharply turns away, however, aren't quite as neutral.
Kira and the Second Kira had tried to hide the fact that they had found each other and established a partnership, or rather, master-servant relationship. Light had tried to hide the fact that he was involved with Misa by allowing himself to be seen with other girls. It seems that that distance has carried into his new personality: burying himself alive with work so as to ignore Misa. Just because he will not use her to find out Kira's whereabouts? Or is he wary of becoming too close to someone who is more suspicious than even himself?
He does not envy Light's popularity with the fair sex. It doesn't seem worth the trouble to him; he has others to deal with that area if need be. Aiber, Light…Matsuda…
She doesn't know how or why, but about half an hour later, the boys show up on the scene. She can't say she's happy that he's here, still in that stupid green shirt, but with those handcuffs, it was just about inevitable for him to show up, as well. At any rate, whatever foul mood Misa had been in seems to wash away the second she catches a glimpse of her man from out of the corner of her eye. She doesn't even stop to care that Ryuzaki's right behind him. The way she springs out of her chair and flings herself towards him with open arms, it almost seems for a moment that she really is an angel and can fly.
"Oh Light, it's so nice to have you here! You didn't have to come all the way out here to do this!"
"It's not a problem," he tells her, practically lying through his teeth. He has laid down the conditions that he will not have his name mentioned, he will not take interviews, and he will arrange to have his appearance changed so that he will look more accurately like Hideki Ryuga. As if he'd had to ask for the last part.
Erin glances at him for a moment, then at Ryuga who stands on the sidelines leaned against the trailer with his hands in his pockets, then back at Light. "Actually, I think that can be arranged. Misa, go on and give Light a noogie."
"A noogie? O-okay. 'Scuse me, Light." She scoots in to lock an arm around Light's neck, while her other hand makes a fist to drill into Light's scalp. A bit too enthusiastically, at that.
Erin and Misa have established a fruitful exchange of cultural values since getting to know each other.
"Hold on there, Light, almost done…there, stop."
Misa promptly lets go of him to examine his now messy hair, sticking out in all directions as though stretching in protest for such a violation. "What d'ya think, guys? Actually, the resemblance is almost uncanny, the way I see it."
Misa blinks. "Hey, that's actually not bad. He does look more like Ryuga, this way. But don't worry, Light, this is just for this scene; we'll fix it right back up as soon as we wrap. I still like your original hair."
"That's good to hear," says Light, appearing to be having an increasingly hard time keeping the smile on his face. To Ryuzaki, at least.
The assistant director stares at the handcuffs linking the boys together with a slight grimace. "Um…what's that? We can't exactly do this with those in the way."
Matsuda gawks for a second. "Ah, well, I…uh, see, this is…"
"Oh, this is just a friend of his," blurts Erin, taking care not to look anywhere near his way. "He's what most folks would call 'special.' These two are handcuffed so he doesn't wander off and get lost. You could consider this dude as his minder, in a way."
Ryuzaki has a feeling that "special" is not used in this context to mean anything positive.
"If only that were true," Light mutters underneath his breath.
"Maybe if you guys just readjusted the camera so he's out of the shot. Plus, it'd make for something more intimate if the two lovebirds got a close-up, right?"
"Thank you for the advice, but the last I checked, you weren't the director," says the AD. "You're just a guest of Misa's. You probably don't even know the first thing about making a movie."
Erin looks at her feet, partly out of embarrassment, partly to hide the blush bleeding into her cheeks. "Uh, sorry, I was just trying to help."
Nishinaka waves his hand. "No need to be so hard-nosed, Abe. We're always welcome to friendly suggestions."
"Whatever," Abe scoffs. "Places, everyone! Remember your motivations and all that jazz."
Ryuzaki stands as far away from the couple as the handcuffs will allow and stares at the AD marching back behind Nishinaka, his head cocked to the side and his thumb dangling from his mouth. He says nothing. There is nothing to say.
As Erin moves back to the sidelines, she notices Hideki Ryuga strolling up to her, gracing her with one of his trademark heart-quivering smiles. "Well, I can't say that I'm not disappointed that I don't get to kiss Misa-Misa, but if a girl is spoken for, you should respect that. But you...are you spoken for, too?"
Huh? Erin jolts a little. Why wouldn't she? A pop idol besides Misa has just come up to her and asked if she was single. "Uhm…why do you ask?"
Ryuga laughs, "Can you blame a guy when he meets a pretty girl and wants to know if she already has a boyfriend?"
Pretty. Hideki Ryuga has just called her pretty. It isn't likely that he's being serious; it's just a little innocent flirtation, as most celebrities are notorious for. All the same, Erin can feel those palpitations coming back strong. Likewise, can you blame a girl for getting bashful when a pop star tells her something like that?
"Th-thank you," is all she can manage, her gaze darting toward the fountain where Misa is coaching Light how to lean over her, where to put his hands and everything. It's getting harder to resist the urge to rock on her heels. Ryuga may look vaguely like Ryuzaki, but man, is he a lot nicer than his counterpart.
"So you're a friend of Misa's, I take it?"
"Yeah, I am, you could say that. Her boyfriend goes to the same school I do, and that's how we met, through him." That technically is not a lie. The only thing she's left out was that she and Light were not nearly as close as she's implying. "I'm just here to support her."
"You seem like a good friend. You must be, to encourage her guy to come over here and be stunt double for her."
Oh, boy. He heard that conversation? "Actually, that was more of her manager's idea. It just sounded like a good idea to me."
"Say, it doesn't look like you're from around here…are you an exchange student?"
He also seems to be a smidge dimmer than his counterpart. Couldn't he tell that from looking at her? She fiddles with the brim of her hat. "Uh, y-yeah. America. New York, to be exact."
"Ooh, a foreigner. So it's true, what they say about American girls." He doesn't specify what exactly he means by that, but Erin assumes it to be something positive, if the way he winks at her is any indication. Oh God, she feels like she's going to die!
She grins, then notices him pulling out a notepad and a pen. "I've gotten so caught up, I've almost forgotten to ask: what's your name?"
"M-my name?" It's been established in no uncertain terms that she can't go by her real name as long as she's with Light and Misa, not unless she wants to get in trouble with Ryuzaki, whom she wants nothing to do with, at the moment. But what about her alias? Something doesn't feel right about giving an alias to a celebrity.
She decides to go for the midway point. "Just call me E." It's not like they're going to meet again for dinner and a movie, or anything.
"Just E.? Okay, then." Ryuga scribbles two lines of loopy kanji in purple ink, then tears off the paper and hands it to her. Sure enough, she reads the following words:
To E. With a kiss, Ryuga Hideki.
It takes her longer than it should to realize that she's just gotten an autograph from a pop star. With a kiss. "Oh gosh, tha—thank you so much! I—I don't know what to—I mean, I—thank you so much!" Her tongue threatens to paste itself to the roof of her mouth and stay there.
"Don't mention it. Any friend of Misa's is a friend of mine, too. Oh, I'd better get back to the powder room; it'll be my turn again soon. Have a wonderful night, E.!"
"Yeah, yeah, you too!"
Wow. An autograph from a pop idol. And she barely had to do anything for it. This day may have turned out to be a good one, after all. She truly does owe Misa big time; she even almost forgets about being mad at Ryuzaki.
At least, until the wind picks up. All of this excitement has made her grip lax. It would be her undoing.
"What the—h-hey, get back here!" She chases after the dancing signature almost like her younger self did back in the days when she and her brother would try to catch fireflies at her grandparents' house. It isn't long until Matsuda sees her distress and rushes in to help her, bumbling as he is. Up to a point, they manage to stay out of the shot when the autograph lands, wedged under Ryuzaki's toes.
He picks it up like it's a used tissue and holds it out at arm's length. As he reads the sparkling purple print, Erin stomps up to him, huffing red. "Oh, for crying out loud. Hey, you, that's mine, give it back!"
"Hey, you?" She addresses him callously, like he's a stranger. In a way, he could say he is.
"Have you gone deaf? I said give it back."
"You're making quite a fuss over a measly signature. What's so important about it?" he asks neutrally.
"What's it to you? You're not into that sort of thing, anyways. Now can you please give that back?"
He stares at her outstretched hand blankly, concentrating on the feel of the wind sweeping through his hair, and the way it plays with some of the straggling strands on her own head.
"Very well. I have no use for it, as you've said…oops."
No sooner than he lets go, the autograph bolts upwards into the air. Crying out in dismay, Erin shoves him aside (inadvertently tugging Light away from Misa, in the process) to chase after it, stumbles briefly over the chain in a flapping of limbs, but it's all in vain. It flutters in the breeze like a baby bird learning to fly before landing on the far side of the fountain. In the water, where the ink proceeds to run into oblivion.
She and Matsuda circle around the fountain. Matsuda proceeds to kneel on the edge and reach out to grab it. It's no use. It's drifting too far out of reach unless he's willing to get wet.
She curses to herself as she tears her hat off her head. "Thanks a lot, Ryuzaki, what was that for? You did that just to be a tool, didn't you?"
He doesn't dignify her words with an answer, preferring to nibble on his fingernail, instead. Easy come, easy go. On the bright side, at least now they have semi-amusing material for an outtake.
Predictably, the crew is back in almost as much of an uproar as they were the first time. Will this night ever end? "Cut, cut!" shouts Abe in frustration. "You ruined the shot! Now we have to start all over!" By the way he says that, it almost sounds in Erin's ears that this may be the last time she ever accompanies Misa to work again.
"That's okay!" Misa cheers, clinging to an extremely flustered and rather regretful Light's neck and not looking the least bit upset that the shot has been trashed. In this case, she can make an exception. "Misa could kiss Light all day, if she has to!"