Anecdotes from the Story of the Century

Hunger

Thwop!

"What the hell'sa matter with you?"

Thwop!

"Is there no line that you won't cross? I don't care what your 'reasoning' was for doing that; you could've really messed them up!"

Thwop!

One by one, the projectiles bounce harmlessly off of their bored-looking target, like bullets off of Superman™. "Miss Crocker, I took the liberty to take us aside so we could discuss this civilly," he says with a blank expression on his face and hands buried in his pockets, almost as if it had been so much trouble to pause his schedule and step out of the room where the rest of the task force waits. "It would be appreciated if you stopped throwing pillows at me, now."

After learning from Watari what he was up to, she had barged into the room just as he and Light had struck up their agreement to stay together until Kira had been captured, whereupon she, to the utter bewilderment of the task force, chucked a pillow at the back of his head. Luckily the camera was one-way so Light and Misa wouldn't have been able to see what was happening on his end. Coolly excusing himself, he had entered the next room to be greeted by a bombardment of pillows—collected especially for him—fired by a fuming Erin from across the room.

Watari, you were supposed to keep her distracted…

"What's that? Stop throwing pillows at you? You want me to start throwing vases, dishes? How 'bout my fist, instead?"

He blinks at her. She wouldn't do that. She's more or less a puppy with the bark of a pitbull. Otherwise, ceramics would be flying by now, rather than pillows. "I don't think there's any need for that, but thank you for offering. Anyway, Yagami and Amane are safe, at least for the time being, so I fail to see the point you're trying to make here."

With a pillow clutched in her hand dangling at her side, she sputters, "Wh-what point am I—how would you like it if someone put you through that? How would that make you feel? Hm…wait. There's really no point in wasting time trying to figure out how you feel after all, is there?"

He tilts his head, scratching the back of it. "What makes you say that?"

She bites her lip. You're L. You don't have feelings. You're not supposed to have feelings. You're just an android masquerading in a latex human suit who thinks you've got humanity all figured out, like a crossword puzzle. But you don't. Not even close.

"You're too hardcore to feel anything. You must be, to put the three of them through a mess like that."

The room falls into a long, thick silence. He can see by the way her hands twitch that she's toying with the urge to launch another pillow, but she doesn't. She wants a reaction out of him, some kind of proof that he is a sentient being like everyone in this suite and not just an empty shell of such. Mild annoyance, anything at all. But getting such a reaction from him is like sitting out in the rain, rubbing two wet sticks together to start a fire. Nothing she throws at him sets even a spark, none that she can see, anyway.

He hooks the tip of his finger into his mouth. "Perhaps I shouldn't have feelings. I have no use for them. Emotions tend to create more problems than they solve."

He locks eyes with her. "But, that does not have to mean I feel nothing."

A skeptical frown bends the corners of her mouth. She now clutches the pillow with both fists held in front of her, like she's putting up a shield. Can he see right through her, down to her bones, like an X-ray? It feels like it, and she doesn't like it one bit. "O…oh yeah? Just what kind of things do you feel?"

Didn't she just say that figuring out his feelings would be a waste of time?

He lightly sucks on his fingertip. He had left his half-eaten cantaloupe in the other room, and he can taste faint traces of the succulent fruit lingering on his skin. "Hunger."

"Hunger? Pfft. That's not a feeling."

"Why not? It's a physical sensation, isn't it?"

"That's just something everyone has so we have the sense to put food in our bellies, once in a while. With all the hustling we do, we'd probably forget to eat if our stomachs didn't let us know when we're running on empty. It's an instinct. Animals get hungry, hell, even plants. Photosynthesis and all. But that's not an emotion."

"The sensation of hunger starts in the brain, just like a typical emotion. It's greatly influenced by other emotions, too, isn't it? When you're upset, do you typically think about eating?"

"Well, no…unless, y'know, I'm cranky because I'm hungry. If I had to take a guess, you're too far above petty emotions like that; seems that every time I see you, you either have something in your mouth or something on its way there. D'oh, why are we even talking about being hungry, anyway? This is about you being a wad and not caring about it."

Gnarled locks of stray brown hair fall across her face and down the sides of her neck. Thin dark circles line her eyes from weeks of broken sleep fitful with fear and resentment towards the man staring back at her. She holds up the pillow a bit higher.

He finds himself sucking on his finger harder than before, and mutters, "I must admit, I'm disappointed. For someone who supposedly aspires to be a writer, you are rather narrow-minded."

"I-I'm narrow-minded? You keep those kids locked up because you think that they're guilty of something they're obviously not guilty of, then you have the boy's dad take them out to the middle of nowhere and pretend to shoot them like they were Newbery™ dogs, and I'm narrow-minded? Why, just 'cause I think you have a screwy way of doing things?"

That's enough to provoke her into chucking that last pillow at his head. It hits him square in the face before plopping to the floor. He doesn't even flinch. She tries without much avail to hide her nervous gulp when she realizes that she's out of ammo.

"At this moment, it seems you're only thinking of hunger by its literal definition, meaning the need for food and nutrition. But hunger…hunger can mean other things, can't it?"

He steps over the pile. Watari can pick those up, later. "If my understanding is correct, it can also mean…want."

He identifies the wide look in her eyes as something between confusion, wariness and frustration. "Want? Is that what you said? Want of what?"

"Oh, anything, really. Money, power, fame, an attractive partner…people are prone to want anything, and if they want it badly enough they'll do whatever it takes to get it. Even if it means committing a crime, one as atrocious as murder."

He's been walking towards her all this time, and a part of her wants to run for it, he sees it in the way she fidgets, but her stubbornness won't let her act on it. She's trying to be brave, here. Let big bad Ryuzaki come at her, what's the worst he can do to her? She'll give him a wallop if he pulls anything, right?

When he feels his lips twitch with what feels like a smile blooming, he digs his thumb into the corner of his mouth, pulls his lips back down. "In fact, perhaps it would not be too far of a stretch to say that all other emotions stem to an extent from hunger."

"Wh-what d'ya mean?"

"Consider how you feel when things go your way. Are you not happy or at least content? Most people are when they get what they want, aren't they? At least until they see the next best thing, then the cycle starts again. When you don't get what you want, or you come across a circumstance that you don't want, don't you typically feel sad? Angry? Fearful?"

He's got some kind of gall to be preaching about emotions he's probably never felt for himself and reducing them to inane responses to a basic urge. He doesn't know what he's talking about, she's almost fairly sure of that. He just likes to hear himself talk, just like how he likes to eat sweet things or suck his thumb or chew his fingernails down to the bone.

"Hmph, and what could you want? You've practically got the police eating out of the palm of your hand, don't you? You're the best in the world at what you do, and loaded to the gills. Compared to most people, I would say that you got it made. What could you possibly want that you don't already have?"

By this point, he's gone from standing seven feet to seven inches in front of her. Most might consider this kissing distance, under certain circumstances. She cringes ever so slightly, her face breaking out into its trademark blush. Her mouth hangs open, like she's temporarily lost the ability to close it. He's close enough to smell the distant scent of that melon shampoo she'd used in the shower this morning.

"I hunger for justice," is his reply, low yet flat on the delivery as his right foot reaches up to scratch his left calf.

She sneers at him. She didn't think he had it in him to say such corny things, with such lackluster, at that. He sounds like an old actor who's been saying his lines for far too long, no longer believing in their magic. Damn man, if you're gonna say something cheesy, at least say it like you mean it. "Is that right? You hunger for justice? That's your reason for everything? I—"

She's at a momentary loss for words. Then, her green eyes light up, like she's just come up with a witty comeback, and she doesn't hesitate to share it in a sputter: "Can you add more cheese to that baloney? Yeah, I'm sure you do; after all, that's where you get your fatass salary from. Not that I support what he's doing, but I'll bet you're so fixated on catching Kira because if he killed all the crooks, lowlifes and sleazebags in the world, you'd be out of a job."

She manages to work up enough courage to shove him out of her space, the closeness finally becoming too much for her to bear. "Although frankly, the way you've been acting, I wouldn't say you were much better than the competition…hey, if you find him, you should talk about going into business together or something. You'd have a gay old time, I'll bet," she spits. Was that supposed to be an insult?

He gets his footing back quickly enough, and his hands retreat back into his pockets. Actually, he could say he's already struck up a deal of that sort with Kira. At least, until his new proxy is captured.

And maybe he and Kira aren't that different from each other? He's never professed to being a hero or something close to that. Heroes save people from dying; he comes in after the fact, and even after he's caught the culprit and prevented more similar tragedies, it does not mend the damage already dealt. The world is at best marginally better with every case he solves, and then it's back to business. He's been at this for so long, it's just about become a game to him, now. Something to keep his own existence from becoming stagnant. It isn't as though he has anything else…

Kira is the same way, though newer at it, acting out of his own warped sense of justice, now mutated into a hunger for dominance. The world will not be any better after he's done with it, if not worse off, but his god-like arrogance will not allow him to see that.

There's a question in her eyes, in all of their eyes, that goes unspoken, but lurks in the corners of their minds. When will it be enough?

"So maybe you're right? You can feel. Just not for others, I guess?"

"I do what I must."

"Aw, PS! You didn't have to have Mr. Yagami do that to them! They were innocent from the get-go."

He turns away. This conversation is going in circles. He can't convince her to accept his method, but at least he'll have laid out his rationale for it. "At any rate, they should be returning soon. I suggest that you stay in here out of sight until they depart for their own rooms."

"What? Why? Can't I go out and say hi?"

"I'm afraid that's not feasible, at the moment. It's better if they don't know that you're here." He's already headed for the door, leaving behind an increasingly disgruntled and puzzled Erin.

"Yo, I'm over here! You got something to say, say it to my face! Hey! Are you listening? Hell-oooooo?"

Click.

"Oh, I see. Playing deaf now, are we? You're really good at that, has anyone ever told you," he hears her huff from the other side of the door. He waits for her to charge through there again with more pillows, but it doesn't happen. She's probably gone to cool off.

"D-did things get straightened out between you two?" asks Matsuda as he resumes his seat in front of the TV and examines the melon slices for dryness.

"I suppose. By the way, Mr. Matsuda, I should let you know, you're getting a new assignment," he announces without looking his way. He focuses his attention instead to the now black TV screen.

Matsuda almost jumps. "I-I am? What's the job?"

"Misa is going to have frequent contact with the public and I would prefer that nothing about the investigation be leaked. You will be watching Misa as her new 'manager,' Taro Matsui."

The young man gasps. "Oh my God, really? You'd let me hang out with Misa-Mis—I mean, of course, Ryuzaki. Whatever you need, consider it done," he corrects with a courteous bow from the waist, trying to cover over his fanboy outburst from moments ago. Of course, he'd have him supervise Misa. It isn't as though Matsuda is of any other use, at this time.

Matsuda pauses, as though there's something he's almost forgotten.

"Ah, but Ryuzaki, what about…you know? If Light and Misa aren't supposed to know that she's here, and I'm going to be with Misa, where does that leave her?"

He doesn't answer for a spell, knowing automatically who Matsuda is talking about. Her blushing face flashes through his mind, her somewhat nasally voice accusing him,

"So maybe you're right? You can feel. Just not for others, I guess?"

He places the chunk of fruit he'd just had between his fingers back on the plate. Suddenly, he's not in the mood for melon, anymore. It must be the ham dressing the display; it had been left on for too long and has tainted the fruit. When Watari comes back, he'll have to ask him for something different.

"We'll…play it by ear."


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