Will (Part 1)
So this has been your plan, all along…
Light Yagami, of all the human beings I have met, you are surely the most disgusting of them all.
Only one other person besides Rem saw the odd, short-lived smirk on his face that he had passed over his shoulder to her, as casually as the way he would toss an apple over his shoulder to Ryuk. But only Rem could see the malice and utter self-satisfaction that crinkled the corners of his lips. Without even speaking to each other, each knew what the other was thinking at that moment, but it was obvious who had the upper hand.
A human having a shinigami at his mercy…what a humiliating position.
Although, he was not the first one to have had her.
No, this was far graver than that. Light had ordered Misa to recover the other notebook and regain her memories, to continue killing in his place. He had purposely set her up to look suspicious, practically begging "Ryuzaki" and the task force to capture her again through her actions.
To her dismay, her lifespan had showed up over her head clear as crystal. She had done the Eye Deal again, with a nonchalant Ryuk, this time, and now only had ten years left to her name. Even that much wouldn't matter in the least, if she gets caught now…
"If they would admit to killing with the notebook, they'd receive the death penalty, or at least life in prison," said Ryuzaki, popping two panda-shaped cookies into his mouth. The sound of his chewing sounded like the cracking of bone in Rem's ears. "That's the best that they could hope for," he mumbled with his cheeks puffed out.
You're certain that I would do anything to help Misa and save her life. And at this point, the only way to save her is for me to write Ryuzaki's real name in my notebook. But if I kill him…I'll end up just like Gelus. I'll have deliberately prolonged Misa's life, and I will die, as well. Light has planned everything so that it would work out in his favor.
Ryuzaki…or rather, L Lawliet, didn't have that long to live, anyway. 272 days. Not even a year. Not short enough for her to expect him to die naturally, though, without her intervention.
"What're you smirking about?" asked the girl sitting next to Ryuzaki. The name over her head read Erin Blogger, but the humans called her "Elin." Another alias. She still had fifty years to go. Misa had almost the same amount of years left when they had met (courtesy of Gelus, of course).
The smirk on Light's face vanished, replaced with a calm, even smile that fooled everyone in the room but her, whom he went back to ignoring. "Oh, it's nothing. This case has certainly taken an unexpected turn, but I'm confident we'll be able to bring Kira to justice, yet."
"Yeah, ditto!" cheered Touta Matsuda (forty-five years), pumping his fist into the air.
"Hm? You don't look so good, Elin. Maybe you should go rest?" His concern sounded too genuine to really be so. Rem found herself needing to hold back a snarl, unusual for a creature who was supposed to be unfeeling.
"Probably just something I ate. I did gorge on a lot of candy, yesterday. Gentlemen, include me out."
She had a hand over her stomach with a queasy, pale look on her face as she hoisted herself onto her feet, still recovering from her splurge from the night before. Sweets, humans called them, some of which she had offered her, though she did not so much as touch them. Ryuzaki ate even more of the stuff than her, just about every day.
Why did humans feel so compelled to take more than they needed, no matter how sick they knew it would make them? Shinigami killed humans for their lifespan, but this was only once in a while, mostly when it would occur to one that his or her time was almost up, which just went to show how sluggish they had become. Compared to humans, who always seemed to be on the move, always in a hurry, never at ease for long, and only at rest when their lives ended.
Maybe that was it? Humans were rarely, if ever, satisfied with what they had. Their hunger for life urged them to take more, even if it meant taking from others of their own kind. It was one of the things that had made Rem so disgusted with many of them. She had seen greed at its worst in her time with Kyosuke Higuchi, the proxy she had chosen for Light's plan. She had deemed him an easy enough person for Light to catch without his memories of the Death Note: he had the motivation, but lacked the level of cunning intelligence that his predecessor had. He couldn't even carry out his plans independently; he'd had to rely on seven equally greedy associates—or rather, blackmail them—into collaborating with him, and yet spoke to them as though he were the most superior in the circle.
As soon as he had begun talking about taking Misa as his bride and investing money into her "life insurance"—a despicable thing in and of itself, to place something as worthless as paper and coins onto something as invaluable as life—Rem had to keep reminding herself of Light's plan to still her hand from writing that fool's name in her own notebook, already. At least Light was killing "for the betterment of mankind." All Higuchi was after was money and social power.
But now she had seen Light's true colors. This wasn't about creating a gentler world, anymore. This too had become about power, the gaining of more power than a human could, or should, be entrusted with, and anyone who appeared to be in the way would be dealt with swiftly and cleanly. This included Rem, and, if she were not careful, Misa.
Erin made sure to keep a sizable distance from her as she walked past, almost glancing at her from the corner of her eye before her gaze darted towards the floor, like she were afraid Rem would attack her if she so much as looked her in the face.
Or was there something she urgently needed to say, but was afraid to share it?
While Rem had no particular affection towards the human, she also seemed to be one of the very few humans who didn't stir intense disgust within her. While she was as restless as any human, if not downright wired if her reaction to seeing her was any indication, she otherwise appeared to have not an ounce of real hatred in her body, completely incapable of mind games. Though not without her own bouts of selfishness, she seemed to genuinely care about the people around her all the same, even Ryuzaki.
In a way, she reminded Rem of Misa.
Or rather, who Misa used to be.
Rem and Gelus were not friends by any stretch of the word; until certain events, she didn't believe that shinigami were capable of being friends or having friends in each other, never mind with humans. The word did not exist in their common vocabulary.
Actually, no one was Gelus's friend. He was more the butt of everyone's mockery than anything, a small dumpy thing who spent nearly all of his time peering through the many windows that opened to the human world far below. When and how his habit began, no one knew, much less cared.
The first time she took up watching over Gelus's shoulder, the sight they beheld was one that should have repelled them from watching again. Not that shinigami were horrified of the darker goings-on of the human world, but this was certainly nothing Rem would linger around a portal to see.
Two-thirty in the morning at a household in Osaka. The lights flickering within its windows. A mother and father, lines etched into their faces by time, worry and mounting resentment, jumping to their feet as a young woman stumbles into the den, her hair, clothes and breath reeking of a liquid chemical that humans call alcohol. They're shouting at the woman, demanding answers as to where she's been, whether she thinks that this has gone on for long enough.
Rem can't make out the woman's exact words, her speech is too slurred. But they sound indignant and yet strangely apathetic to the anger of the other two humans. She throws a bottle at the mother's head, barely missing the loose bun on top of her head before it shatters into shards against a painting of a mountaintop. Punctures a sizeable hole in the center.
While the conflict escalates, in a room at the end of the hall, a young girl—no more than fourteen years—ducks away from the crack in the door she's been spying through to cower in the corner beside her bed, a blanket wrapped around her bare shoulders like a shawl. She clutches the fabric in her sweating hands, her fists pressing a panda plushie close to her chest.
"Stop it," she whispers through gritted teeth, curling in around herself. She's trembling with the urge to cry. "Please, just stop it." She repeats her plea over and over like a mantra, but no one can hear her, not over this commotion.
Minutes pass that feel like hours (by the human world's definitions of time, at least). By the time it's all over, the woman—Kimiko Amane—is led away screaming and writhing in handcuffs into a car flashing red and blue. She would never return to this place. Only when her parents are left alone in the doorway, the mother weeping as she dabs away at the gash on the father's face (there would be more bloodshed to come, not that any of them know this), does the little girl—Misa Amane—dare to venture out, still wearing the blanket and clutching the panda. She rubs at her reddened eyes in feigned sleepiness, pretending that she has only just now woken up. She does not want to worry them any more than they already are.
"Mommy, Daddy, what's going on? I-I thought I heard sirens…where's Kimi?"
Her question is redundant. The looks on their faces tell her everything.
Gelus would be there to see Misa come home to a ransacked house and the bloodied, mangled remains of her parents about four years later, just in time to see the killer—Yoichi Tamura—leap out of the balcony with a feral grin on his face, wiping the blood from his knife on the cloth of his sack. He would be there to see Misa cry behind closed doors and put on a brave face for the public during the trial, unable to do anything to comfort her. He would be there to see her make her rise to stardom, become a believer of Kira after the mysterious death of Tamura, and of course, to see her be ambushed by Ryotaro Sakashiro, the man who was supposed to have killed her that night. Rem asked him, time and again, why he was so fascinated with the human world, for it seemed like such an ugly place to her, a place of chaos compared to the calm emptiness of their realm. Shinigami did not hurt and torment each other like humans did. They lacked the drive to do so.
Gelus, shy and soft-spoken, replied, "Not everything in it is ugly."
Indeed, he had found a sliver of beauty underneath all of the blood. Rem had never thought that he would become so attached to this beauty that he would break the rules of life and death and sacrifice himself for it, but he did.
And now here she was, in the same position.
"There is something we could try," she heard L say, watching as he hooked a finger into his mouth. "I can have Watari submit a request to say, the FBI or CIA to let us choose two convicts on death row. We can test the Death Note—"
"Ryuzaki! We can't do that!" Shuichi Aizawa scolded. "There's no point in testing it if we know the notebook's power is real."
"That's right! It's not good that you could be so willing to throw away the lives of two people like that," said Soichiro Yagami.
"The subjects would be on death row anyway, and if this were done properly, we could save many more lives," L said matter-of-factly, almost wearily.
"That may be, but after the fiasco with the FBI agents, I doubt that the organization would be up to doing something like that," said Light. A catty remark disguised as admonishment.
If Ryuzaki wants to test the 13-day rule, perhaps I can make them believe the rule is valid by killing the person who writes in the notebook after thirteen days?
But I'd have to be there to see them, and as long as I am attached to Light, I cannot go very far...
She could just have Light Yagami killed right now and be done with it. Maybe not with her Death Note but through some other means. Turn him in to L, perhaps? He had after all mentioned that he'd get the death penalty if he was caught. But what about Misa? Wouldn't she be incriminated also? Even if she wasn't, she would be so unhappy if something happened to her beloved savior, especially if she believed the fault was her own. Rem knew from her first three days in confinement, from the way she had sobbed and begged Rem to kill her, that Misa would choose to die for his sake, and surely Light, arrogant Light, had known this when he set this plan into motion.
If she died, who would be there to safeguard Misa from his wrath? Ryuk would certainly never step up to the task. Misa was capable of defending herself as long as she had her own Death Note; she had spoken so cheerfully about it before. But that was before she saw Kira's face and fell in love with him in almost the same way Gelus had, with her.
Rem had given her Gelus's notebook after his death because she'd thought she deserved it. Gelus would've wanted her to have it, something to protect herself with so no one could hurt her anymore. When they had met, Misa had even briefly mistaken her for an angel—whatever that was—rather than a shinigami.
Now she began to wonder: had giving Misa a Death Note been a mistake?
Had Misa never met her and had the Death Note, she would've never become the Second Kira, never would've met Kira and fallen in love with him, and wouldn't be in this danger that she is in now.
But that wasn't all. While Misa had been grieving before, asking herself what kind of life this was that she and her family existed in where the bad guys got away with everything and the good died in such ugly ways, something truly began to change in her when the Death Note had fallen into her hands. She was sweet and energetic enough with others on the surface, but how much did people really matter to her, anymore? Little, if not nothing at all. She held an entire TV station staff hostage, killed innocent policemen without hesitation. All to meet her own ends. To meet Kira himself, to thank him for punishing the man who'd slaughtered her parents, to see if she could help him with creating the new world.
Not even her own life seemed to matter to her, anymore.
"So…if he'd never fallen in love with this girl, he'd still be alive today, wouldn't he?"
After a moment of thick silence, Misa's smile became dreamy as she looked down at her Death Note—Gelus's Death Note—pressed to her chest, clutching it a bit tighter as though it had become that much more precious to her. "I had no idea…I thought it was luck, but it turned out to be a shinigami who saved my life that day."
"Yes. Gelus loved you enough to die for you." Rem pointed a long, skeletal finger at the book in Misa's arms. "So that Death Note is now yours to keep."
Misa flopped down onto her bed, her eyes shut to the world as she pondered over the fairy tale she had just heard. "I see. So, for a shinigami to die, they have to love a human enough to want to prevent their death from happening. What a beautiful way to kill…"
Rem cocked her head to the side, doubtful of the logic behind Misa's words. It had never occurred to her that killing could be anything beyond a means to prolong her life. "Beautiful? To kill out of love? How so?"
"Because it's different," said Misa, a bit matter-of-factly for her. "When most people kill or are killed, it's usually violent. It's ugly. But to kill or be killed because you love someone…that's not ugly at all. It's a peaceful way to go, it's lovely. Better than out of bad luck or greed. Life is hard, ugly enough as it is, and everyone has to die eventually. Misa knows this better than most. So why not die in a lovely way? That's how Misa would want to die."
Rem didn't know what to say. She personally saw it as a cruel way to die, having one's love for someone used against them, but what did she know?
"So what about you, Rem? Are you in love with Misa? Be honest."
From just hearing these words, Rem started to wonder whether she should regret having told Misa this story. "Just forget it," she said. "You think you can kill me that easily?"
Misa giggled. "Oops, you saw through that?" She turned her head to stare up at the shadows on the ceiling. "Misa's so happy to have such an interesting story to tell Kira. But Misa wonders…if he knows, too? How to K-I-L-L a god of death?"
Despite Rem's request to never repeat the secret to killing a shinigami, that ended up being one of the first secrets Misa shared with Light when they had met face-to-face, and Rem had been powerless to stop her.
Somewhere in her heart of hearts—assuming that she had one to speak of—Rem could not deny that she was as important to Misa as Misa was to Light. Which was to say, not at all. Light did not love Misa, and Misa did not love Rem. All she was to her was leverage, a means to wrap him around her finger and to let him wrap herself around his.
Misa, while still beautiful on the outside, had in a sense degraded into something as ugly on the inside as the people who had hurt her throughout her life. So why did Rem not find her disgusting? Because she had seen who she was before shinigami and the Death Note entered her life? Because she believed that a being capable of giving herself completely to someone else did not deserve to die?
Because she loved her? Rem didn't know.
Rem watched from the shadows as Erin argued with him, the two of them still dripping with rainwater. Somehow she too had pieced together what Light was up to, and was begging L not to go after Misa, not to test the fake rules of the notebook, surely there had to be another way. She looked ready to hit him, but instead dropped the towels and bolted in the opposite direction.
"Miss Crocker! Where are you going?"
"To do something that you won't! I don't know how the hell you got the others on board with this but those notebooks are toast, even if I have to toast the motherfuckers myself!"
Such ugly words, but she was offering a chance to save Misa, and oddly enough Light too. Were humans capable of such compassion after all?
L wouldn't have it. Rem watched him chase her in almost the same way Ryotaro had gone after Misa, tackle her like a panther overpowering a ram, pin her against the wall, knock her unconscious. She might have thought he'd killed her had her name and lifespan disappeared, but they remained over her head unchanged.
Though Light's enemy, he was no different than he was. He was not looking out for Misa's interests either. Only his own.
Higuchi. Light. L. None cared for Misa any more than they would for a useful tool.
So that's it, then. There's no bargaining with him. He's going to send that human Quillish Wammy for her. I have no choice. I must kill them both, for Misa's sake.
Rem became filled with a profound, fiery and terrible rage that she hadn't before this known she was capable of, and reappeared before L in the monitor room to watch events unfold, waiting for the right time to make her move. She refused to look Light in the eye the entire time.
She didn't know of this justice that Light and L spoke of, either. Justice, from what she's heard, was supposedly about getting what one deserved. But who deserved what for what? And who had the authority to decide this?
Did she deserve to die for ruining Misa's life, or for failing her duties as a shinigami?
Light Yagami…he has surpassed even a shinigami. And to think that Misa is in love with such a man.
The desire to die is a blatant contradiction to the most basic instinct of all living things, of plants, animals, humans, even shinigami, who exist on the barren border between life and death. How does this desire emerge: when one realizes that life itself is not worth her will, or when she realizes that there is something more important than her own life?
Maybe she and Misa were not so different? Misa clung to Light because out of everyone, he'd had yet to let her down. He had put meaning back into her life, promised her that there would be something greater than this life that she knew if she worked alongside him for it.
And in an odd way…perhaps Misa had unknowingly done the same for Rem, and for Gelus before her? Was this a good or bad thing? Rem didn't know, and it was too late for it to matter now. As soon as the last panicky letter had been scribbled into the page, Rem wasted no time tearing open a fusebox to sever a live power cord with her fingertip, unconcerned for its purpose except for the one tiny spark she needed to set the book ablaze.
Know this, Light Yagami. This is my Death Note, and you shall never claim it. I will not let you use my Death Note against her.
Misa…whatever you do, please, be happy in the time you have left.
The swell of foreign yet vaguely familiar emotion began to disintegrate, crumbling at her feet into dust and sand, like how tears rolled down human cheeks, with the rest of her. Strangely, a part of her expected this to be what humans would call painful; it had looked painful when it happened to Gelus, or to the thousands of people whose hearts stopped beating under Light's pen or Misa's.
But no. This was more like falling, like how it felt when she landed on the ground after flying for so long (goodness knew that she had flown this plane of being for quite some time).
In her last moments of existence, she felt…free.
On the other side of the wall, L fell at his enemy's feet like an opossum.