Anecdotes from the Story of the Century

Leader

When her ancestors first touched American shores, Lady Liberty had been the first to greet them, torch ablaze and tablet clutched tightly in her arm, but just loosely enough so they could see what her country had to offer them: opportunity, equality, liberty. The Great Famine had chased her Irish farmer ancestors—Mom's side—across the pond, where they duked it out in factory-run tenements to stay alive.

The Swiss roots on the tree—Dad's side—broke away from employment with the Invicta™ Watch Group and set out to promote original watches crafted by Stefan Bragger (who was known for dreaming too big and getting in too far over his head, almost like his great-great granddaughter). That pipedream never exactly made it off the ground, but he managed to make a decent-enough living for the family repairing clocks and pawning antiques in the Red, White and Blue under the surname "Blogger" (due to an error while registering at Ellis Island that was never fixed).

Proud as she is of her lineage, Erin is American, right down to her hot, throbbing core. She was born and raised American, as were her parents, and their parents before them, and their parents before them, for the most part. And she needn't have her arm twisted to remember why she's proud to be so.

Davey is but one on her laundry list of reasons.

"Matsu, you can make it through the light before it turns red! Step on it!" Telling an officer of law enforcement to speed through a traffic light? What a joke!

"Wh-what's the rush, Elin?" her chaperone asks, reasonably flustered by her pushy request as he fumbles his grip on the steering wheel.

"Davey's gonna be making his address, and I can't miss it," she huffs. "And if traffic here is anything like it is back home—or worse—he'll be halfway through it by the time the light turns green again."

"Davey…oh! You're talking about the President of the United States, aren't you?"

"Who else could it be? I never miss his speeches. Sure, I can always watch clips online, but it's not the same." President David Hoope is her hero, or at least one of them. A man of strength and integrity, he's a hero to most Americans, really, as a president should be. She'd been too young to vote when he'd first run for office, but the first thing she'd done upon turning eighteen (besides throw a party) was to get registered for the next election. Farley had been lucky, having been old enough to register and vote, that year. Just to be a snot, he'd waved around his new card in front of her like a badge, striking all sorts of poses and announcing in a faux agent's tone: "Farrell Blogger: licensed to vote Democrat."

Besides, she may be studying here, but that doesn't mean she doesn't also want to keep tabs on her own country, in the meantime, especially in times like these.

But perhaps she shouldn't be so in-your-face about her patriotism? Matsuda loves his country just as much as she loves hers; they all do (except for He-With-Too-Many-Aliases, who seems to have no attachment to any country whatsoever), but they don't rub it in. They show their love of country by risking their lives to catch an elusive and possibly psychic criminal mastermind who's terrorizing it into gradual submission.

Actually, Kira is supposed to be the subject of tonight's address, and not simply because he's all everyone wants to discuss, these days. While the bulk of his killings have been concentrated in Japan, he's also been hitting just about every country housing hardened criminals (which would unfortunately mean just about every country in the world, including America). Kira meant it when he said he wanted to create a new world.

Even more specifically, President Hoope is probably replying to the statements made by the Prime Minister and a few members of Japan's Diet, barely days ago. Erin had thought it bad enough that L's been dragging his feet—or more like, not moving an inch at all—but now it seems as though even the government is starting to follow suit. Mr. Prime Minister had publically expressed support for the mysterious vigilante's efforts to control the crime rate, slowing debate between the other Diet members to a grinding halt ("With all due respect for the men and women in our law enforcement, this is considerably more than what I can say about their efforts to maintain order").

In fact, some of the junior members have been following the Prime Minister's lead and echoing his sentiment on the issue among tightly-knit circles made up of anxious members of the press.

"It's wrong to kill people, but countries still fight wars and execute criminals. The problem is that it's difficult to eliminate the people who deserve to die. If you ask me, if the right people die…then Kira may just be doing this country a great service. In that sense, maybe we don't need L or the police?"

News travels fast, with today's technology.

"Kira is a weed disguising itself as an olive branch: he masquerades as a force of justice promising a golden era of peace and prosperity, but resorts to acts of terrorism and mass murder to achieve these ends," President Hoope declares with a fist pounding into the podium. "He's draining this society of the principles upon which society is founded—that being liberty, equality and democracy—all in the name of a selfish, evil desire to dictate the world. America is not and will never be fooled into believing otherwise simply because he's eliminating people who are thought to 'deserve to die!'"

That's Uncle Sam, the loud overbearing big brother taking on everyone else's problems like they're his, too (especially since this problem is slowly becoming the States', without a doubt).

Yeah, you tell 'em, Davey, she cheers in her head, her pulse buzzing in her ears as the roar of the crowds tears through the TV's speakers. She never once makes a sound until the address appears finished, even as Matsuda sits next to her focusing on the Japanese subtitles at the bottom of the screen. She doesn't want to miss a word.

God, if only her room had a TiVo™. She would've recorded Hoope's entire speech before forcing Buttcake to watch it. If he were watching this, maybe he'd be just that much more motivated. Probably.

What are her ears really buzzing from, though? From the adrenaline produced by the power of President Hoope's words, or from a mounting fear about the support voiced by the leaders of the country at the heart of this whole mess? What if they start making the police call off the hunt? Could they do that? Would they do that? With talk like that, the paranoid nail-biter in her if she didn't know better would've thought that the Diet was thinking about making Kira the Prime Minister, just because they like him so much and everything he's doing.

Do they genuinely support his actions? Or are they praising him out of fear for their lives? Like them, the President is, to say the least, a prominent figurehead in the political world. Kira could kill him any day of the week if he felt like it. He's got some stones to go up on TV and trash-talk him like that.

Not to say that the Japanese don't have stones, too, of course. Some of the bravest people she's ever met are Japanese. But after these latest developments…

Matsuda is polite enough to wait on giving his feedback until she turns off the TV and flops down on her bed, spread-eagle. "What a guy, our Davey is! If there are any real heroes out there, that guy is one of 'em!" Given her company, her remark is rather callous, though not intentionally so. Even she forgets who she's speaking to sometimes.

"Funny thing, though: he didn't mention anything about sending more agents or something to help out. Then again, it'd be pretty stupid to talk about doing something like that on TV, wouldn't it?"

America has sent FBI agents to Japan to aid the investigation (in actuality, to spy on the national police agency under L's orders, on suspicions that Kira had access to their information and therefore may have had some connection to them). All twelve of them—including Raye Penber, who had been tailing Light—were killed soon after, though nothing had been mentioned about their coming, prompting the FBI to withdraw from the case. Matsuda can't tell her any of this, though; he'd be throttled if he disclosed such sensitive information to a civilian.

What she doesn't know is that while America does generally oppose Kira, their little task force is pretty much on their own. Just the six of them…well, five, ever since Ukita's death at the Sakura TV station during the Second Kira's attack.

He hopes she doesn't hate him for what he's about to say. She's virtually the only one lately that he can be honest with in his opinions without worry of too much backlash…

He dares to sit on the edge of the bed next to her when she sits up again. "That was an awesome speech," he admits, thumbs twiddling between his knees, "but…is it right to write Kira off as completely evil?"

"Huh?"

"I've been thinking a lot about it, and…a part of me just doesn't believe that he is."

Sure enough, her eyes are as almost as wide as ping-pong balls. "What'cha talking about, Matsu? Don't tell me you think Kira ought to be the Prime Minister or something."

"No, I'm not saying that, and neither was anyone from the Diet. I don't really know if Kira is true justice, but…I think that he's trying to fight evil and change the world, in his own way. And well, the world has become a better place for people who live honest lives, if only a little. So maybe—"

"Is it really, Matsu? Or is it 'cause people are trying to save their asses? If it's the latter, I wouldn't call that real peace. That's like a bunch of kids playing nice at recess or else the schoolyard bully will nail 'em if they step outta line. 'Oh hey, you threw that soda can on the ground instead of recycling it, so don't expect to see tomorrow.' Maybe he hasn't gotten that picky, yet, but what's gonna happen if he does get like that?"

"I understand that," Matsuda insists, his head now hanging in growing frustration as his fists clench. "Believe me, I'm as aware of that as you. I-it's just that I can also understand the other side. I can see why all of those people call him a savior. For all of the people he's killed, so many have been saved because of him, have gotten a sense of closure for their loved ones through him."

Exhibit A: Misa Amane. She's bound and blindfolded at the moment because she worships Kira, who dealt justice that the legal system had failed to by offing her family's killer.

"It's…oh, don't hate me for saying this, but it's kind of like you with the President. You want someone you can depend on to stand up for you when you can't do it yourself."

Immediately, Erin's ego is about to go on the defensive—has he just called her a weakling, and how dare he compare Hoope to someone like Kira?—and her mouth shoots open to fire a snappy comeback when Matsuda shuts her down:

"I know because…when it comes down to it, I-I've always been a weak person, no matter what I tell myself otherwise. I could never accept Kira as a leader, and I know it's my duty to catch him—no, I want to catch him—but I can't bring myself to hate him, either. I don't know, I must be crazy. Or something…"

Whatever she was about to say fizzles out of her mind before it can reach the tip of her tongue.

She doesn't hate him for speaking his mind. How could she ever? Erin is a weak and fearful person, herself. Of course, she'd be inclined to think that the dropping crime rate is because of Kira's bullying people into keeping their noses clean. They've both been bullied in the past, whether real or imagined. They're the types who look for and cling to heroes, idols, leaders, people that they wish they could be.

Only difference between them is that she'd never admit this outright, like Matsuda has just done. She's so cowardly, she won't even admit that he may be right about her admiration for President Hoope.

That will not sway her into supporting Kira, though. Even if he isn't inherently evil, even if he is helping people, how can Matsuda deny that he's still taking away all of the things that she's been raised on, that people from America and most other nations have been raised on, that their ancestors migrated for?

After a while of puzzling until her puzzler is sore, she pats Matsuda's back. "No. You're not crazy. At least, not as crazy as you might think. In fact, you just gave me an idea…"

As Matsuda watches her with a curious look, she clamors across the bed to flip open the laptop sitting on the bedside table.

"Yes, Miss Crocker?"

"Yeah, hi, Watari. Listen, can you do me a tiny-whiny favor? Can you look up clips of Japan's Prime Minister and President Hoope's statements on Kira and send them to Ryuzaki? I don't know his E-mail…given that he has one. I just think he ought to watch them. Is that okay?"

"Very well."

"Thanks, Watari!"

She closes the laptop, quite proud of herself for the moment that she doesn't consider the possibility that L will just ignore the clips, like everything else that isn't coated in sugar. "What was that about?" asks Matsuda, scratching the back of his head.

"Let's just say that a car runs on a battery; when the battery's dead, you need to jump-start it."

It's true, she can't do anything about it. But on the other hand, the guys who can do something are short-handed, caving in to public opinion, or sitting on their bony duffs, ignoring what's going on while they waste their time interrogating the wrong people.

So if she can't do something about Kira directly…

Why not keep pushing the leader behind the resistance? She's American. She should be an ace at protest to the point of obnoxiousness. Who knows? With her talents and their tenacity, maybe if she and the gang annoy him enough, he'll come to his senses? Isn't that how most major changes occur?

One thing she's sure of, he can't get away with this. Neither of them can, no matter how much support they get.


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