With the boys back downstairs, it isn't long before the girls go wild. Wild in the "jumping on Misa's bed, throwing pillows at each other, and squealing like the tweens they used to be while native pop music blasts at max volume from Misa's boom box" sense.
Misa starts it. Being the spontaneous girl she is, she lures her neighbor into her bedroom, lulling her into a false sense of security as she lets Erin sink in the room: spacious, dim-lit, fragrant, and decorated here and there with some of her favorite Gothic paraphernalia. Even her collection of plushies, some of them with big red eyes, chains, crosses or broad stitches around the mouth and limbs, do little but add to the playful creepiness of the room (or creepy playfulness, Erin can't decide).
For the briefest of moments, Erin can somehow imagine old L sitting among them in his little monkey-crouch. He could probably sit there between the pandas and never be noticed…which prompts her to quit imagining this before it creeps her out too much. L isn't going to ruin the night any more than he already has.
Erin swallows, slightly intimidated by the four-foot, wide-eyed porcelain doll dressed in black and lace, lying flat in a glass case on the vanity as a body would in a casket (and that's only for starters). "Wow, Misa. I…you sure have a way with sprucing up a place."
Misa bounces in after her and shuts the door, the cobwebs that make up the hem of her silky nightgown gliding over her smooth, white thighs. "Well, if Misa has to live here, she has the right to at least be comfortable, right? So Misa had the task force move some things in from Misa's real apartment."
"Oh yeah, I hear ya." Given what L had put her through in prison, Misa deserves the royal treatment, not just her creature comforts.
While Erin stares at the statuette of what looks like the Grim Reaper—complete with flowing hooded robe and intricate scythe—Misa pops a CD into her boom box and pushes "Play." Instantly, Japanese lyrics weave their way into Erin's ears through an accompanying piano, snare drum and electric guitar, the melody upbeat and yet strangely ethereal, wistful, even.
"The pleasures of earth can't compare to what awaits at Heaven's door,
And I believe I can endure the pain, if only for you,
Please forgive me for making you wait…"
Her heads snaps up in recognition of the voice. "Say, Misa. The girl singing this song sounds kinda like you. Or is that just me?"
Misa digs her bare toes into the carpet. "Oh, that's probably because this is Misa singing," she answers coyly.
Erin's cheeks prickle with heat. "Aw, what? No fooling? Wow, Misa! Not only are you a model and an actress, you're a singer, too?"
Misa twirls a blonde pigtail around her finger, letting slivers of pride shine through her voice. "Well, the music is dabbling more than anything. Misa only has one album out, so far…with at least two or three hit singles, already." With her free hand, she holds up a CD case with her picture on the cover, bordered by blue roses and the words Heaven's Door in small white print. Named after Misa's number one hit single, the song that is currently chiming in the background.
Her guest whistles and grins. "You sure are a busy gal. Can't channel all that charm through just one medium, huh, Misa-Misa?"
"Nope! Misa has too much energy. You can ask anyone."
"So, you write your own songs?"
"Misa didn't write all of the songs on the album, but some, yes. 'Heaven's Door,' definitely. The song, of course. Misa also played the piano, not to brag."
Erin cocks her head, her grin becoming sheepish with vague inadequacy. "Is that right? You play instruments?"
"The piano. Or the keyboard, which is kind of the same thing, I guess. But we couldn't fit an actual piano in this building; Misa had to settle for the keyboard, instead." She gestures a long red nail towards the matching instrument propped in the corner. "I goof around with that thing when the mood strikes me."
"Jealousy! Color me green. Say, maybe you and me can come up with a song or two sometime. Nothing serious, though we'd make a dynamite team, probably," Erin babbles, her face burning all the hotter at the idea of writing songs with the Misa-Misa, despite not knowing the first thing about the craft. What a thing to write home about. If she could write about it, that is.
This earns a sly giggle from the idol as she shuffles around her American companion until she's at the foot of the bed, reaching behind her in what appears to Erin to be tired stretching across the sheets. Erin notices out of the corner of her eye how her nightgown rides somewhat up her thighs, and quickly focuses on her face instead. "What's the matter?" she asks, mildly disappointed. "Time to turn in, already?"
"Misa wishes it wasn't, but it's starting to feel like it. Even Misa can get beat, sometimes."
"Uhm, that's understandable. So, where am I gonna sleep? The couch out there, or here on the floor?"
"Elin can sleep here on the floor, if she wants. Just let Misa get you a few blankets…and a pillow!"
Before she knows it, Erin is stumbling backwards into the J-rock poster pasted to the door, recoiling from having just had a pillow slammed into her face while Misa rockets back onto her feet, shrieking with glee and victory. "Gotcha!"
"H-hey, no fair! I'm not even armed!"
"All's fair in love and war, Elin," Misa says frivolously before making another lunge. With her hands over her head as a shield, Erin somehow manages to trudge through the onslaught towards the bed to grab for a weapon of her own and so level the playing field, shrieking all the way, regardless. Misa Amane is full of surprises.
Soon enough, the girls spend who's counting how long chasing each other around the room, braining each other as much and as hard as they can with their sacks of silk and feathers while trying to dodge the other's blows and avoid stubbing their toes on the furniture. Erin can't tell which is louder: the music, her pulse roaring in her ears in rhythm, or their peals of laughter.
When they are each on either side of the now disheveled bed, Erin spins the pillow around by the corner before she gives it a great big fling. "This is payback for playing dirty! Ka-me-ha-me-HAH!"
The projectile sails soundlessly through the air. Misa ducks. Its landing, however, isn't nearly as quiet.
When Misa squirms around and squeals again, she doesn't sound quite as happy as five seconds ago. Actually, she sounds more horrified. It never took much to get Erin rattled to begin with, but just hearing Misa cry out like that is enough to imbue her with horror, as well. She drops her other pillow.
"Oh crap! Oh God, Misa, I'm sorry! I am so sorry! I-I didn't—I didn't break anything, did I? I didn't mean to!" She scrambles over the bed—momentarily snagging her foot in the pile of sheets—to survey the damage a little more closely. There aren't many things you can do when visiting someone's abode that are worse than breaking their stuff (clogging the toilet comes pretty close, but that's because it's almost the same thing).
Misa herself is unharmed. Scattered at the foot of her vanity is a candle-holder with a crucifix protruding from it—unlit, thank goodness—a Hello Kitty™ keychain, several jars of makeup, and a small polished picture frame lying face-down. Misa dives for the frame first, like it's something incredibly valuable. Keeping it perched in her lap, she sinks to the floor, curled up in almost a protective ball around it.
Erin isn't sure whether to come any closer at first, but instinct overrules caution, and before long, she's knelt down to Misa's level in front of her. "You okay, Misa? I-I didn't break that, did I?"
Misa shakes her head. "Doesn't seem like it. And even if you did break the frame, it wouldn't have been a big deal. It's the picture Misa's worried about."
Upon craning her neck and stretching over to see what the fuss is about, it suddenly becomes much clearer. A girl that looks quite a bit like Misa, if younger, smiles back at them both, kneeling in the sand, giving a peace sign. However, this girl isn't blond and wearing little pigtails; her hair is dark, with a single lock tied into a ponytail as the rest of her hair falls free down her shoulders and back. She isn't wearing any black or lace or chains, either; she's in a white two-piece swimming suit.
To boot, there are people standing behind her. Three of them: a middle-aged man and woman, and a girl who appears to be in her early to mid-twenties, a ghost of a smile flickering through her lips, unlike Misa's, which spreads from ear to ear. All of them are in their beachwear. All of them seem happy. None of them are blonde.
"Hey. Is that…are those your folks?"
Misa nods, though doesn't make eye contact. Her gaze is locked intently into the memory in print. "Uh-huh."
"Where was that taken from?"
"Osaka. I'm actually from Kyoto, but I spent a lot of my childhood there in Osaka. That's where Mom and Dad spent the rest of their lives…"
A strange heaviness seems to hang over them like a canopy, drowning the room in near-silence. The music dies away from Erin's attention, and Misa's, from the sound of it. Or at least, it becomes like a refrigerator's hum: monotonous, and only noticeable when one is alone or it's the middle of the night.
"…They…seem like good people," Erin mutters. She may have never met the other Amanes, and this is certainly the closest she'll ever get to meeting them, but she finds no traces of hostility or any sort of ill intent in their faces. The older girl looks like she's having trouble smiling, but even she seems a decent character in her own right. In fact, looking at this family portrait makes her think of her own family back in New York. And how much she misses them.
How badly does Misa miss hers? Erin and her clan are separated merely by distance, mostly physical. Misa has lost hers to death.
"They were," Misa replies, a little too softly for her. "I wrote 'Heaven's Door' just for them, you know. I have this dream…I dream that they're waiting for me out there, like they always did since I was little…"
"And…who's the girl?" Erin asks, pointing a hesitant finger at the older girl towering over little Misa. "She your sister or something?"
"Yeah. Kimiko. She's not a celebrity like I am, but she's awesome with numbers. And she's married," she adds, like marriage is a grand accomplishment. And in a way, perhaps it is, Erin just hasn't thought that much about it.
It's only then does Erin notice that Misa has dropped her third-person speaking tic.
Again, Misa shakes her head. "Kimi moved away from home long before the robbery. She had a teensy problem with drinking, but she's gotten better since then. For the most part, her life is normal." The way she says this, it's almost as though she wishes she had a piece of that normalcy that she claims her sister to have.
L won't let her discuss much about her own background; hell, Misa isn't even allowed to know her real name. Erin wishes she could contribute more to the conversation by sharing memories of her own older brother who's always been great at sports and currently works as a PE teacher's assistant for grade school kids, but she can't. Even if she had that liberty, what would it do for Misa to bring up fond memories of what Erin still has and what she has lost?
When they were first getting acquainted, Erin had been afraid to ask about Misa's family. After what the idol has to say next, she starts to remember why she'd been afraid.
"Sometimes I wish I were still with them."
Her finger tugs at the collar of her creamy orange pajamas. Taking her statement at face value, as she often does, Erin agrees, "I'll bet. I don't know what it's like to lose my parents…"
And to be frank, she isn't sure she wants to imagine such a possibility.
"But I can't imagine it to be easy, getting by without them—"
"That's not what I meant," Misa cuts in, stiffly. Too stiffly. Erin isn't sure she's used to this side of Misa. The Misa who loves the Gothic so much not just because she likes the style, but because it may be her odd way of mourning what cannot be brought back.
"I wonder sometimes, why I was spared. Why I didn't die along with them."
"M-maybe it wasn't your time?" Wrong thing to say.
Misa's face suddenly hardens with a dull resentment, like pain that arose from picking at an old wound that hadn't healed quite right, polishing her eyes with tears that prod at the lining of her eyelids. She's almost as dark as the whole room, maybe even darker. "But it was theirs? And even if it was, did it have to be so cruel and violent and bloody?"
Fuck L. Even if she is a professed Kira supporter, this girl can't be the Second Kira. Isn't the Second Kira supposed to be someone who kills remorselessly, not caring whether they have any right to take a life? A lot of Kira supporters wouldn't hurt a flea even if the chance was handed to them; in fact, that's why they support him. He can do what they can't. He's their protector. So they say.
"No, no, that's not what I—I mean, what happened to your mom and pop should never have happened. Never. But, look at everything you could've missed out on if…you know. I think your folks would've been a lot happier if you lived your life to the fullest. Which you are. You've got a good boyfriend, you're famous and talented, and you've got tons of adoring fans—"
Somehow these words make Misa's face soften again. Maybe she's said the right thing to pull the two of them out of this hole they'd somehow wound up in? Or she may be giving herself too much credit. Misa probably just knows what she's trying to do, and is cutting her some slack. "Misa does love her fans. And they love Misa. But fans aren't quite the same as family. They aren't always there when you need them. They expect a lot out of you, whereas family takes you as you are. And when you fall, fans don't always wait for you…"
"Wait. What about Kimiko? She's still around, ain't she?"
By this point, Misa presses the picture frame to her breast, head hanging over. "We…don't talk very much anymore. Haven't since the trial."
If this hadn't been too much for her to hear already, it surely is now. Erin is not used to the idea of having an estranged sibling, especially at a time when they might need each other the most. Sure, Farley can be a turd sometimes, but they still talk. She wants to tell Misa to go call this Kimiko girl up right now (9:55 at night), be sisters with her again. But is it really that simple? She doesn't know what kind of relationship the Amanes had before they'd stopped speaking to each other. Her mother had always told her that there was a fine line between caring and poking in where you don't belong (not that that'd always stopped her from doing it).
Come to think of it, how "teensy" was Kimi's drinking problem, anyway?
Like many others, Erin has fantasized about leading the lifestyle of the rich and famous. But her fantasies had never left room for how rough it could actually be. How lonely. Then again, that's probably why they're called fantasies, isn't it?
Sometimes there isn't much a friend can do for another—especially when they can't say anything remotely intelligent about the problem—except hold their hand. Which Erin does. As though afraid of getting bitten, she reaches over to slip her fingers around Misa's tiny hand, the one not clutching the picture so tightly to her chest.
"You…still want me to stay the night?" If Misa's mad at her, it wouldn't be the best idea to—
"Of course, you can stay. We've been having so much fun; why would Misa want you to leave?" She's looking up at her a bit more now, a smile stitching its way across her lips. She lightly squeezes back.
"Uh…no reason. You wanna get up? Dunno about you, but I think my legs are falling asleep."
Misa nods, and together they rise. Once they pick up everything else up off the floor, Erin rubs her aching, watering eyes. "Maybe we should turn in? I can sleep on the floor."
"Of course! Let Misa get you some blankets. Oh, and Elin?"
She shouldn't have dropped her guard.
"Gotcha! Misa wins!"
It's a little disturbing, how rapidly Misa-Misa's emotions fluctuate. Even Erin isn't this random, or at least, she can't recall ever being so. The morning after, Misa is indisputably back to her bright, perky, third-person-referring self, as though she hadn't gotten the least bit teary-eyed about her old family photo the night before. Not wanting to see her like that again, Erin doesn't follow up on it. It's how Misa rolls. Maybe when this is all over, and she's no longer under suspicion—whenever that day may come—she'll have the time to properly work through her personal troubles.
There are some holes that even friends cannot fill in.