“Are you sure you don’t want me to search your apartment?” Matsuda asks, having chivalrously offered to take me home once we landed in Japan. Out of context, that sounds extremely creepy and intrusive, but considering where I just came from… “We’re still not sure if those mafia guys are going to try to kidnap you again. After all, Mello escaped-”
“Matsuda-san, shut it.” I snap, rubbing my forehead. “You don’t need to search my apartment. Genzai’s been guarding it the entire time I was away, and I had one of my neighbors check up on him periodically. I’ll be fine.”
“My Doberman Pinscher. I got him almost three years ago, he’s trained to be vicious. Worst comes to worst, I’ll find a body in my apartment because some moron decided to break in.”
We arrive at my door, and I manage to unlock it before waving Matsuda off. He leaves, and I open the door.
The moment I close it behind me and lock it, I’m bowled over by one hundred pounds of excited guard dog. Genzai lies on top of my chest, licking my face, while I try to push him off.
“Genzai, stop it!” I laugh, the stress and tension of the last four weeks finally melting off of my shoulders. By my laugh, however, he thinks he’s been allowed to continue, and immediately goes back to covering my face in his saliva.
“Genzai, heel.” I hear the command, and Genzai quickly backs off of me, before trotting over to Ryuzaki’s side and sitting. We, Ryuzaki and I, stare at each other for a few moments, before he breaks the silence. “You’re late.”
“Am I?” I look at the wall clock. “It’s only four in the afternoon.”
“You should’ve been back four weeks ago.”
“Your successor, Mello, thought I’d be a good trump card to catch Kira before Near, so he kept me around.”
Ryuzaki stares at me in shock for only a second, before a sadder expression takes over. “So, Mello was the one to kidnap you?”
“Unfortunately. He was working with the mafia, too.”
“Lovely.” Ryuzaki walks over to me, and extends a hand to help me up. Once I’m on my feet, he turns around to walk away. “You look pretty beat up. Go take a shower.”
“Gee, thanks.” I walk over to my room, grab a change of clothes, and head for the bathroom.
As I pass Ryuzaki’s room, he calls out, “Welcome home, Mirai.”
“Good to be back, Ryuzaki.”
After an hour long shower - because, come on, I haven’t showered in a literal month here - I grab one of the pages of Ryuk’s Death Note, the page almost entirely covered in names, before sitting down at the kitchen island. I bring my pen down to only a millimeter above the page, before pausing as a thought occurs.
“Hey, Ryuzaki.” I call out, and a few seconds later, he walks around the corner to see me.
I pause for a moment to try and figure out exactly how to phrase this. “How… would you react to me killing Mello?”
He blinks at me for a few moments, before walking over and sitting next to me at the island. After he takes a few more seconds to compose himself, he responds. “It would be a lie if I said that it wouldn’t bother me. I understand that what he did was unforgivable, but he was still my successor. He had promise, and he threw it away by becoming a criminal. I wouldn’t object to you killing him, but I wouldn’t be alright with it.”
Thinking for a moment, I nod. “That’s a fair answer, and I’d probably say the same in your position.” I glance back to the paper in front of me. “There should be enough room for me to write specific qualifications, too…” As a plan forms, I smile.
“What are you planning now?”
“Do I want to know?”
“Do you even know?”
“It’s still a concept, I can’t read it to you now. Let me turn it into a picture, then that into a document, and then you’ll know.”
Only a couple days later, I show up at Light’s doorstep like the slightly creepy stalker I am. Luckily, I came when the Task Force was there, working, so when Light opens the door, I push past him and immediately announce, “Have you heard?”
The task force jumps up from their seats, tense and ready to fight, before they realize that it’s only me.
“Oh, hello, Mirai! What a pleasant surprise to see you here, please, feel free to come in.” Light mutters sarcastically behind me from the doorway.
I glance back at him and stick my tongue out, before regaining my composure and continuing.
“Remember Demegawa? The guy from Sakura TV?” I ask, gaining a chorus of nods from each of the members. “Turns out, he has a Kira-centered show. For all we know, Kira might’ve contacted him and given him more information that he could be leaking right now.”
“It’s worth a shot.” Aizawa decides, grabbing the remote, and turning on the TV to the station.
“I will proclaim this right here and now, to all the people of the earth, Kira is true justice!” Demegawa’s voice rings from the speakers. A billion sparkles flash across the screen, and the words, ‘Kira’s Kingdom’ flash across the screen all glittery. The shot changes to one of Demegawa sitting right in front of the camera. “Good evening, it is my honor to be appointed by Kira as his spokesman. This is not a hoax, it’s the absolute truth. I realize there will be many people who might try to have me killed now, but I’m prepared to risk my life to further Kira’s ambition.”
“Kira’s Kingdom, huh? What a terrible title.” Aizawa grumbles, glaring at the screen.
“This is insanity.” Ide, a new addition to the task force, agrees.
Demegawa continues his long-winded spiel. “Trying to capture Kira is an unforgivable crime! If you happen to know anyone who is trying to capture Kira, be they a police officer, a criminal, or a regular citizen, you have to bring them to justice!”
“If anyone should be killed by Kira, it’s this guy.” Aizawa continues his grousing.
“Switch it back to the press conference,” Matsuda recommends, “the president’s about to start.”
While Aizawa quickly changes the channel, I turn on my phone, and open my text chat with Ryuzaki, under the fake name “Ryuu-san”.
“PCO, POTUS spk” I send the confusing string of English shorthand to him, which roughly translates to, ‘Press Conference, President of the US speaking.’
Only a couple seconds later, he replies, “ICI” translating to, ‘I see it.’
I turn my attention away from my phone and back to the screen.
“I wonder what it’s about.” Matsuda wonders openly. “All they said was it was going to be some sort of announcement.”
“You don’t do anything but watch TV, do you?” Ryuk goads, catching the apple Matsuda had thrown into the air. Indignantly, Matsuda steals back the fruit from the Shinigami’s hands.
“Good morning.” The president begins in English. “I’m going to try to keep this brief.” He silent for a few moments, leading everyone to lean forward in anticipation. “The United States… will no longer oppose Kira.” Chaos breaks out in the press conference room, and the president’s two bodyguards quickly go to either side of him.
I text Ryuzaki, “DUST?!” ‘Did you see that?!’
Light slams his hands on the desk in front of him in anger. “Those… those cowards!”
I try not to smile as I realize what this means. ‘Wonderful. Now that we have the great America neutral, the rest of the world will soon follow.’
“Wh… what the hell is he talking about?!” Aizawa exclaims in shock.
Ide continues, “Have they been threatened, or something?”
“Justice? No, no, I never said that.” The president continues in response to the reporter’s exclamations. “But because of Kira, war and conflict has ceased to exist. Criminal organizations are in a state of ruin, not only in the United States, but in all free nations. Anyone who defies Kira head-on will be killed, that is a fact. We are not acknowledging Kira as a symbol of justice, we are simply saying that, as a country, we will not take any actions against him.”
That only fuels the fires in the reporters, making them shout louder. Soon enough, the president is led away and off-screen by his bodyguards.
“I can’t believe it.” Aizawa admits in shock. “This is America, how can their government do something so cowardly like this?!”
“Uh, do you guys mind if I ask a serious question?” Matsuda asks, timidly, drawing my attention to him.
“It might break the fabric of space-time, but sure! Go ahead!” Kiyohime laughs at her own joke.
“Oh boy, what is it this time?” Ide unknowingly agrees.
“Are you telling us you’re not always serious?” Aizawa snipes, but Matsuda ignores the jibes.
“Do you guys ever think that maybe, Kira isn’t completely evil?”
My eyes widen, while the other Task Force members object strongly.
“What?!” I hear Aizawa yell.
“What kind of question is that, Matsuda?!” Ide shouts as well.
“I’ve been thinking about it, a-and part of me just doesn’t believe that he is.” Matsuda looks away from the others, averting his eyes from their disapproving faces.
“So now you think Kira is justice, too?!” Aizawa continues to yell in his outrage.
“I don’t really know. But I think Kira’s trying to fight evil and change the world in his own way. And, well, the world’s become a good place for people who live honest lives, so, maybe…” Matsuda tries to defend his declaration, but Aizawa cuts him off.
“You’re wrong, Matsuda! People are only afraid of losing their own lives! How can you think that’s real peace?”
“I understand that! Believe me, I know that as well as you! It’s just that I can also understand the other side. I can see why all those people call Kira a saviour. I’m not like you, when it comes down to it, I’ve always been a really weak person. But, I’m also a detective. I can’t accept Kira! I know it’s my duty to catch him, no, I want to catch him, it’s just that I can’t completely hate him, either. I guess… I must be… crazy, or something, huh?”
I sigh, closing my eyes. ‘So close. If only he didn’t feel like he had to catch us, if only Yagami-san hadn’t died, then maybe Matsuda-san might’ve been on our side by now. While not much, it would’ve been a start.’
“No, you’re not crazy, you’re normal.” Light speaks up, reassuring Matsuda.
His speaking up catches the attention of all of us in the room. “You too, Light?! What’re you talking about?!” Aizawa exclaims, misinterpreting his words.
“I’m sure that, on some level, Kira probably knows that what he’s doing is evil.” From behind us, Ryuk laughs. “But he’ll try to change the world, even as a martyr, even at the cost of his soul. That’s his brand of justice. I bet that’s what’s going through Kira’s mind.” Light pauses for a few seconds. “Anyway, we shouldn’t be arguing about it. Good or evil, it’s not our call. All we have to think about is catching him. If Kira gets caught, that makes him evil. But, if he wins and rules the world, then he’s justice.”
Light soon turns back to look out the window, and we gradually return to what we were doing before. Having rushed over for little more than attempting to lead the Task Force astray with my suggestion about Demegawa’s show, I gather my things and make to leave.
Just before I get to the door, Ide calls out to me, “Was that the only thing you had to offer, Tsukino-san?”
I try to think quickly. ‘For all I know, Near might’ve contacted the Task Force. If I suddenly join again, he might get suspicious. At the same time, I do need to keep in a reasonable contact with them. Let’s see…’
I call back, “If you ever need another mind for deduction, feel free to contact me. That bastard Mello held me hostage for over a month and killed Yagami-san. His goal is to catch Kira before Near. If there’s any way I can help you guys get to Kira first, don’t hesitate to tell me how.”
With a suggestion satisfying to my own agenda in the air, I leave without so much as a good-bye. I could’ve stayed longer, but there was something I needed to do.
After all, it’s been thirteen days since I last saw Mello write in the Death Note.
Having ambushed Hal Lidner, a CIA agent working with Near, in her flat, Mello led her at gunpoint towards the Special Provision for Kira’s main base room. Having noticed them on the security cameras, Near decides to let them in, if only to speak to his old associate.
“Ah, Mello.” Near speaks from inside his little toy circle as the two enter. “What a pleasant surprise.”
Still pointing a gun at the only female member of the SPK, Mello responds gruffly. “It’s a shame I can’t say the same, Near.”
The other two members of the SPK, not including Near himself, are both pointing their guns at Mello.
“What brings you here?” Near talks lightly, as if this weren’t a standstill where both parties had guns pointed at each other.
“I’m about to die, Near. I wrote in the notebook, and I only got a few more hours to live until my thirteen days are up.”
“Don’t act stupid, it’s pointless. The thirteen day rule in the notebook. A Shinigami, a god of death showed up, told me that the rule was real when I asked.”
There’s a collective intake of breath in the room. Even Near gives pause. “So, they’re real, then.” Mello nods. “I had considered the rule to be fake, but that doesn’t answer my question.”
“I still don’t believe it. I’m just covering my bases in case it lied.”
“Then what do you want?”
“The picture of me you took from the orphanage.”
“And why do you care about that?”
“One of my guys got something called the Shinigami Eyes. Just by looking at somebody’s picture, he could see their name above their head. If the rule’s fake, I don’t want Kira getting his hands on the only picture of me that I don’t have.”
“And thereby killing you just after you escaped death the first time…” Near thinks for a while, contemplating everything. “Fine. Everyone, put away your weapons.”
“With all due respect, Near, Mello’s the one who killed our comrades!” One of the two SPK members holding guns protests.
“I understand that. However, if we just give him the picture, we’ll all be able to go on our separate ways. Besides, if we kill him, we won’t know if the thirteen day rule is real or fake.”
While the two SPK members put away their guns reluctantly, Mello’s rage builds to a slow boil. “So, I’m just another one of your tests? Another experiment?!”
“Well, when you put it that way, I suppose so.”
Growling in indignation, Mello pulls out his gun again, this time pointing it at the white-haired boy. “Shut up, Near!” His sudden movements cause the two SPK members to pull their guns again.
“And we’re back at square one. Mello, I’ll give you the picture, but I do hope for some information in exchange.”
Still upset, Mello growls out, “I’m not just some puppet of yours, you got that? I won’t tell you anything I don’t want to.”
“And I didn’t expect you to. What I want to know isn’t quite so focused on the case.”
“Then what’s your question?”
“Why’d you keep Miss Tsukino hostage for so long?”
Clearly not expecting the question, Mello pauses. “What?”
“Why didn’t you let Mirai Tsukino go in exchange for the notebook like Sayu Yagami? How I see it, there was no reason to keep her.”
“I…” Mello thinks for a moment, and puts away his gun. “When she visited the orphanage, she said she worked with L, then she proved it. If L thought she was good enough to work with him, I thought she’d be able to help me.”
“I suppose that makes sense.” Near pulls the picture of Mello out of his pocket, and tosses it to him. “Now we’re even.”
Mello nods silently, before turning and walking towards the door. Only three meters away from it, he stops mid-stride, and clutches his chest before he cries out in pain. Near whips around in shock, staring in horror as his childhood rival falls before him.
“Guess… it was… real…” He gasps out, falling to his knees. “Sorry… Near…” Mello falls to the ground, lifeless. The other SPK members rush over to him, checking his pulse, desperate to see if he was still alive.
Near only stares in horror for a few moments as the others call an ambulance, before closing his hands into fists.
“Even Mello… what else will Kira take from me…?” He grits his teeth in anger, as he swears an oath. “I’ll catch Kira… and I’ll avenge you both.”
Mihael Keehl. Heart Attack. Goes to confront Near, dies of a heart attack before he leaves.
“That should suffice.” I smirk, having finished writing down his name, only to follow with a sigh. “I only hope Ryuzaki will forgive me for it.”
“Forgive you for what?” Ryuzaki walks around the corner into the dining room, startling me. Before I can say anything, he walks over, and looks over my shoulder at the Death Note page. He sighs. “So, you did it.”
“I had to enforce the thirteen day rule.” I look at him sympathetically. “I’m sorry, Ryuzaki.”
“No, you did what you had to.” His eyes go dark, and an emotion I can’t read crosses his face.
“Ryuzaki…” I reach out to him, but he gently pushes away my hand, the message clear. With a reluctant sigh, I nod, before backing off to give him space.
The rule doesn’t apply to Genzai, who seems to have gotten pretty close to Ryuzaki over the month I’d been gone. When Ryuzaki sits down on one of the chairs, the loyal canine jumps up to whine a bit before licking his face.
I smile at the cute scene, before walking back to my room. I end up lying on my bed for a few hours, contemplating everything. All I do is lie still and think.
“Be calm, be collected, be calculating. Be calm, be collected, be calculating.” I mutter the words like a mantra, repeating them over and over again.
I open my eyes to stare at the ceiling blankly. ‘We can’t get arrogant. We need to stay humble, we have to stay alert, we can’t ever let our guard down. We need a billion backup plans. Things have been too comfortable recently, and according to Murphy’s Law, we’ll be out of control soon enough. I can’t let that happen, I need to be prepared.’ My door is slowly nudged open, and I hear Genzai’s collar jangle as he jumps up onto the bed next to me. Absent-mindedly, I pet him. ‘It’s insane how out of hand things have gotten, and how comfortable Light is with it. There are way too many people who know about the Death Note, Shinigami, and sensitive information about Kira. We need to narrow it down. Since Light obviously won’t do anything, and Ryuzaki can’t leave this apartment without causing panic, it’s up to me. I want it to be only the three of us.’
“But how am I supposed to do that?” I ask aloud, the only response I receive is Genzai turning his head towards me, and crawling on top of my stomach. After another few dozen minutes of thinking, I come to a general answer. “I need to talk to Light. We can’t do this on our own.” I sigh, reluctant about what I need to do. “I need to tell him about Ryuzaki.”
Despite the necessity of the situation, I put it off. I completely and utterly procrastinate on arranging the meeting, and do anything else that I can. I take Genzai for long runs. I research exotic places to travel to. I watch a billion cat videos online.
Anything to keep me from thinking about it.
My procrastination came to an abrupt ending when I turned on the TV several days later.
“This is Demegawa live!” The self-proclaimed voice of Kira yells over helicopter white noise as they fly towards a skyscraper. “My comrades and I have finally pinpointed the location of the evil organization bent on trying to catch our beloved god, Kira! We now have the building completely surrounded!”
I stare at the screen, frozen in shock. “Evil organization…?”
Ryuzaki comes over quickly. “What’s going on?”
“I’m pretty sure Demegawa’s about to commit a terrorist attack.”
“Under Kira’s name, I suppose. On whom?”
“I’m not sure, but I can guess easily.”
“Right now, our enemies are hiding inside the building!” Demegawa continues his rant. “But they won’t be able to hide from us for long! Behold, the power of the people! The power of justice!”
“Care to share your ideas?” Ryuzaki humors me.
“Near would be my first guess. Following that train of thought, Light must have messed up and sent Demegawa and all of Kira’s followers after them. Your thoughts?”
“It is the most probable. In that case, from what I know about Light-san by this point, he’s gloating over this.”
I rub my face with my hands firmly. “Oh god, you’re right. He’s only making things worse.”
“So… what do we do?”
I freeze, before a plot forms in my mind, and a smile breaks out onto my face. “We become a distraction. If Light is beyond the point of us helping him, it’ll be evident soon enough. Still, I don’t think Near has enough evidence to fully suspect him yet.” I jog to my room, and grab a few computers, before walking across the hall to Ryuzaki’s room, and setting everything up.
“What’s this?” He asks, leaning against the doorframe.
“Our distraction.” My smile is almost insane. “Hack us into Near’s mainframe, and set me up with a voice scrambler. I think it’s time for us to show Near our side of the story.”
Within my head, Kiyohime laughs loudly. “A clever bit of misdirection, kid, I’ll give you that, but I do wonder how this’ll play out. How interesting…”