“Finally.” I sigh in contentment, as I enter the library. A haven of books; millions of pages of words dying to be read and reread by eyes desperate for information and entertainment.
I saunter over to the information desk, looking at the dozens of shelves around me. Once there, I whisper to the librarian, “Excuse me, but could you direct me to the fiction section, please?”
She adjusts her glasses to get a better look at me, studies me for a couple seconds, smiles, and finally points to her right. I smile back at her, whisper a “Thank you!” and make my way to the shelves the librarian had specified.
I scan over three shelves, before I come across the mystery section. My smile grows broader, and my search resumes, until I spy the author I’d been searching for. I reach for the Agatha Christie novel, “Death on the Nile”, one of her few mysteries that I have not yet read. I pull it, along with a few of her other works from the shelves, and take my stack of mysteries to the front desk to sign them out. Or at least, try to.
I emerge from the shelves, carrying all eight novels, thinking to myself, ‘This might last me a week. I should probably become familiar with the surrounding areas of the library, not to mention befriend the librarians-‘
I’m startled out of my thoughts when someone bumps into me. Yes, they bumped into me, and not the other way around. I blurt out a, “Oh, I’m sorry, I wasn’t watching where I was going!” out of habit.
I kneel down to pick up the books, and I hear, “No, it was my fault, here, let me…” by a familiar voice. I look over to the now kneeling ‘Hideki’, who picks up a couple of the books I dropped. I quickly stop staring, and pick up a few myself. I hear him say, “I see you appreciate classics. Not many do, these days.”
We both stand up, and I take the four novels he had in his hands. “Agatha Christie-sama was one of the best. Her mysteries are oftentimes the few that manage to trick me. That’s not exactly something that happens often, especially in books.”
“I agree.” He says, neither of us moving for the conversation. “Too many mysteries are far too predictable.” We have a few seconds of awkward silence, before he asks me, “I don’t believe we’ve formally met. I’m Hideki Ryuga.” He bows to me, and I quickly put my books down.
I bow in return, and say, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ryuga-san. My name is Mirai Tsukino.”
“The pleasure is mine, Tsukino-san.” He says as we both straighten up. “What are hoping to major in?”
“Criminology, isn’t it obvious?” I gesture to the books, and he chuckles. “I’m hoping to become a detective when I’m old enough. My sister was killed in a robbery years ago, but there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him. I don’t want any other kid to feel that way, like the world didn’t care that your best friend was just murdered in front of your eyes.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” He says, and I nod.
“I’m used to it. Doesn’t bother me anymore.” I shake my head to rid myself of my suddenly depressing thoughts. “What about you? What are you planning to major in?”
He looks away. “I haven’t decided yet.”
“No matter how much of a bad decision that is, I’ll accept it.” I say, finally picking up my books, and starting to make my way to the information desk, gesturing with my head to get him to follow me. I quickly sign them out under my name, and we head outside, talking about anything that comes to mind.
We eventually sit down on a bench, and he pulls his feet up onto the bench the same way he had every time I’d seen him sit.
“So, Tsukino-san, I wonder, what do you think of Kira?” He asks, out of the blue.
I look over to him, then at the sky, and lie, “I believe that Kira is doing what he believes is right. Killing criminals in order to achieve peace, or something along those lines. But that doesn’t justify the fact that what he’s doing is murder, and I believe that he must be brought to stand trial for his crimes.”
He nods, and looks at the sky with me. “You have a strong sense of justice, Tsukino-san.”
“Thank you.” I lean back, and voice the thoughts I’ve had for days a few moments later. “Hideki Ryuga… No matter how I look at your name, I always come to the conclusion that it’s an alias.” He straightens up at this. “I know, that’s a ridiculous thought, how could your parents have known that they gave you the same name as a future pop star?” I shrug my shoulders nonchalantly. “But, I’ve learned to trust my instincts, and that’s what they’re telling me. It’s absurd, though. Why on earth would you need an alias?”
“Why indeed…” He trails off, before standing up. “I should get going now. It was nice meeting you, Tsukino-san.”
“It was nice meeting someone else who’s just as smart as me, if not more so, Ryuga-san.” I say, and bow to him as he walks away. I gather my books and take them home, placing them on my desk ceremoniously, before grabbing the top novel, which happened to be “Murder on the Orient Express”, and heading back to the university.
I’ve been walking around campus for the last hour, just enjoying the sun and quiet, whilst looking for a suitable hideaway of some kind to read in peace, as the library doesn’t have too many reading areas.
I reach the tennis courts just in time to see Light and Hideki getting into their stances, before Hideki serves, not even giving Light a chance to hit the ball, sending it directly towards Ryuk, who quickly dodges with a “Gah!”
Light slowly turns from the ball to Hideki, staring at him incredulously.
Hideki stands, and says, “Fifteen, love.” I make my way over to their court, outside of the mesh, and sit down to watch their game.
He straightens from his stance, and comments, “Woah, Ryuga. You sure don’t mess around.”
I raise an eyebrow at Light’s dropping of an honorific, and file the information away to inquire about later.
“He who strikes first wins.” Hideki says, as he positions himself into a stance to serve again.
A half hour later, a considerably sized crowd has gathered around the courts to watch Light and Hideki play. Appointing themselves, an umpire and a line judge decided to help with their match a couple games back.
I’ve been watching the games this entire time, wondering if maybe, just maybe, there was another meaning behind this match. ‘There’s no doubt about it. I know that this isn’t just a friendly game. They’ve got another goal in mind; I think Ryuga-san is trying to use this as a test to see if Light-kun is Kira.’
I begin to watch both of them carefully, as if watching them any closer will let me hear their thoughts. ‘Kira might hate losing, but then again, it’s human nature. Everyone hates to lose.’ I deduce, looking at Hideki, and I turn to Light. ‘If Light-kun throws the match, it could work against him. If Ryuga-san expects him to win, he might also expect him to lose on purpose to try and avoid suspicion. You can’t really profile someone based on a tennis match, so that means that Ryuga-san has some other goal in mind. Either way, Light-kun’s pride isn’t going to let Ryuga-san win.’
The umpire calls out, “That’s four games all! Light Yagami to serve!”
I hear Ryuk laugh beside me. “And just like that, we have an umpire and a line judge.”
I return my attention to the two tennis players, first analyzing Hideki. ‘He thinks he knows what Light-kun’s thinking. That slight smirk is a dead giveaway.’ I look back to Light. ‘This is a token gesture; Light-kun doesn’t buy this as a friendly game at all. This is meant to make them appear closer.’ Back to Hideki. ‘Because they’re playing tennis, Light-kun will assume that Ryuga-san is trying to get closer, laying the foundations to get to know him better.’ Light. ‘He thinks this is a trap, to get him to say something only Kira would know.’ Hideki. ‘Light-kun will have to ask for proof that he can trust Ryuga-san first, and the only way to win Light-kun’s trust is for Ryuga-san to share what he knows.’ Light. ‘He’ll want some proof that Ryuga-san is in charge of the Kira investigation, or more importantly, that he is in fact L, as he claims.’ Hideki. ‘So, it’s logical that Light-kun will want some kind of confirmation, a third party saying that Ryuga-san really is L, which means a trip to Task Force Headquarters. This’ll be fun.’ Back to Light. ‘Oh, he’s going for the winning shot. And…’ He strikes the ball back to Hideki’s side, hitting the ground before he has a chance to get it.
“Game and set!” The umpire calls out. “Won by Light Yagami! Six games to four!” The entire crowd applauds, and I run to the nearest vending machine to get two waters. I race back, and push my way through the crowd to see them.
“And here I was, thinking that it was just a friendly game.” I say as I get to them, and hand each of them a bottle of water. They both nod their thanks, and I relax into an easy stance. “You two were both playing like pros.”
Light takes a deep drink, before asking, “Have you two met already?”
I nod. “Yeah, we… Bumped into each other in the library, and got to talking.”
Hideki raises an eyebrow at me. “I still don’t understand why you had eight books with you.”
I look away. “One four-hundred-page, multi-chapter novel will last me a day, at most. I don’t feel like making the trek to the library every single day.”
“Mirai-chan, I didn’t know you were a speed reader.” Light says, looking right at me.
I turn back to him. “You never noticed how quickly I went through my textbooks when we were studying?”
Hideki shifts awkwardly, probably feeling like a third wheel. “You two are familiar with each other?”
Light turns back to him. “I tutored her back in High School, we’ve been friends since.”
“I see.” Hideki says, suddenly looking more relaxed.
“I should let you two get changed into some street clothes.” I say, waving them off to the changing rooms.
A few minutes later, they come back out, and we walk together.
“As expected, you beat me.” Hideki says, trying to start a conversation.
“It’s been a while since I’ve had to play that hard.” Light admits, and we walk a couple more steps before he says, “I’m feeling kind of hungry, after that match, plus, there’s something I wanted to ask you, Ryuga. Want to go somewhere to get something to eat?”
“You humored me with the tennis match, the least I can do is answer some of your questions. But…” He trails off, glancing at me.
I sigh, and say, “I do believe that your name is an alias. However, as you asked me about Kira in the library, I have reason to believe that either A, you are Kira yourself, or B, you are working on the task force trying to catch him. Light-kun has questions for you, so I can safely assume that those questions are related to the Kira case. Therefore, you likely work on the investigation team.”
He nods, and says, “I’m impressed by your deductive reasoning, Tsukino-san.” and turns back to Light. “Before this conversation goes any further, there’s something I’d like to tell you.”
“Oh? What’s that?” Light asks.
“I suspect that you, Light Yagami, are Kira.” He says, never blinking. “Now, if you still want to ask me something, please, go ahead.”
Light and I both stop in our tracks, but Hideki keeps walking ahead, before realizing that we’d both stopped.
“Heh, you think I’m Kira?” Light asks, surprised.
“Really?” I ask, then think about it. ‘Damn. Either he’s smarter than we thought, or Light-kun’s been slipping up. Better agree with him, though, just in case.’ “It’s a logical conclusion, I can see how you came to that, but that doesn’t mean that it’s correct. It just, doesn’t seem like something Light-kun would do.” I say, playing both sides.
“Well, when I say I suspect you, it’s only a one percent possibility. That aside, I don’t mind telling you that once I’m sure you aren’t Kira, and I can verify that your deductive skills are as strong as I think they are, I’d like nothing more than to have you work with me on this investigation.” He turns, and continues walking, and I do the same, leaving Light behind. “Tsukino-san,” he says once I’m walking side by side with him, “I don’t believe that you are Kira, and your deductive skills could be useful in the investigation. If you allow me to test your skills, I may be able to hire you onto the investigation team.”
I nod, and say, “Fair enough. Can I assume that you are L, then?”
“You think quickly.” He nods. “You would work well on the team.”
“Thank you.” I say, and we continue to walk in companionable silence. ‘That was cleverly worded, L-san. No matter how little you suspect Light-kun, you still have grounds to prevent him from meeting the taskforce. I, however, am not a suspect. This will work out wonderfully in our favor.’
We walk the rest of the way to the café in silence, and sit in a booth hidden in a corner. “This coffee shop is one of my favourites in the area, and if we sit here, there’s no chance of anyone overhearing us.” Light says as we sit down, Light and I on one bench, Hideki on the other.
“Thanks for showing me this place, I can see why you like it.” Hideki responds politely.
“Not to mention, we’re so out of the way here, that no one’s going to bother giving you a hard time about the way you sit.” I say breezily, no longer concerned about politeness.
“I don’t sit like this because I want to, I have to sit like this. You see, if I were to sit normally, my deductive skills would immediately be reduced by forty percent.” He explains.
“Really? Huh.” I say, new information stored.
“So, Light, what was it you wanted to ask me?” He says, turning to Light, having also dropped the honorifics.
“Right, well, I’m sure it can wait until you’re convinced I’m not Kira, so please, let’s talk about whatever you want to.” Light says, taking a sip of his tea.
“You’re both under no obligation to do this, but, would you mind submitting yourselves to a test of your deductive reasoning skills?” Hideki asks us.
“I don’t see why not.” I agree, and Light nods.
“Alright then,” Hideki says, pulling three pictures out of his pocket, and placing them on the table. “You can begin by taking a look at these.” I look down at them, as he keeps talking. “Photographs of three notes, written by prison inmates while under Kira’s control, just prior to their deaths. None of this information has been made public. You can take as long as you want to look them over, please, tell me what you think.”
I pick up one picture, and immediately recognize it as the first part of our message to L. “Huh. You say he can control his victims? Interesting.” I say out loud. “If you read the top row of characters on this picture, it says, ‘L, do you know?’” I grab the other two pictures, including the one in Light’s hand, and line them up, out of order. “This one says, ‘That love apples,’ and this one’s ‘gods of death’.” I pause, and let Light rearrange them.
“It’s like Kira’s mocking you, Ryuga.” Light says, “If you arrange them like this, it says, ‘L, do you know? Gods of death love apples.” He arranges them in the way that they’re meant to be read. “However, there are obvious print numbers on the backs of each picture. Arranging them by that, you get, ‘L, do you know? Love apples, gods of death.’ That doesn’t sound right, and based on that, it doesn’t sound like Kira would have wanted you to read it this way.”
“That’s incorrect.” Hideki says immediately.
“Did Kira leave another note like this?” I ask, quickly thinking, and praying that my guess is right.
“You’d be correct, Tsukino-san.” He says, and pulls out a fourth picture, a fake, and puts if in the lineup. “When we add this one, it reads, ‘L, do you know? Gods of death who love apples have red hands.”
“Odd, that still doesn’t make sense. Why would Kira leave you such a meaningless secret message? Unless, there’s another meaning within the message…” I mumble to myself, still looking at the pictures, playing the innocent college student well.
“Seeing as how I only had three photographs to work with, my deduction was perfect.” Light complains.
“No, it wasn’t.” Hideki drawls. “The truth is, there were four of them. If you’d figured that out, like Tsukino-san, it would have been perfect. Even though you knew the message was incomplete, you decided that there were only three notes. You never even considered that there might be a fourth. What do you make of that?”
Light’s silent for a minute, before he gives, and says, “Well, you got me there. I didn’t think of that. In any case, the likelihood that this message will lead you to Kira is not very great, so you can stop pouring over the pictures now, Mirai-chan.” I blush in embarrassment, and sit back in my chair normally. “Besides, we all know that gods of death don’t exist.” He takes another sip of his tea.
“If you were me, faced with someone who might be Kira, how would you go about establishing this person’s innocence or guilt? You need to be absolutely sure.” Hideki asks, and I sip my tea and think.
“I would probably try to get him to say something that was never made public in any way, something that only Kira could know.” Light puts down his tea and straightens. “Kind of like what you were doing just now.”
“Truly amazing.” Hideki admits. “What’s truly incredible is that I’ve asked countless detectives that same question, and it took most of them minutes to even come up with an answer. But you-you immediately thought of a scenario in which Kira is speaking directly to the investigator. I’m impressed. You’ll make a fine detective, Light.”
“Yeah, but it’s a bit of a double edged sword. The more incredible my answers, the more of a suspect I become.” Light says easily, taking another sip of his tea.
“Yes, it’s about three percent now.” Hideki comments, and continues. “However, it’s made me that much more determined to work with you on this investigation. You see, I’m in a position so that even if you are Kira, it would still be to my benefit to have you working alongside us. You know why I say that?”
Light catches on. “If I cooperate with you, there’s a chance I can help the investigation to move forward. And if I’m Kira, I might reveal myself. In other words, whether I’m Kira or not, you stand to gain either way. It’s a very smart move on your part, but I think you might be getting the wrong idea. It’s true that I have an interest in the Kira case, and yes, detective work is a hobby of mine, but I know that I’m not Kira, and I certainly don’t want to be killed by him.”
“Besides,” He continues his rant, “what proof have you given us that you yourself aren’t Kira? I mean, it hardly seems fair for only one of us to be investigated, wouldn’t you say? At such a point, neither of us can prove that we’re not Kira. However, if you are in fact L, I don’t imagine it would be that hard for you to prove it to me. My worries would be quelled if, say, someone from the Task Force Headquarters, or some other third party, was able to confirm your identity.”
“Very well.” Hideki says, giving in. “I’m currently working alongside your father, Light, along with several other senior officers from the NPA. Now, if I understand you correctly, if I take you two to Task Force Headquarters, you’ll help us with the investigation. Am I safe in making this assumption?”
He looks at me, and I nod. I open my mouth to say something, but two phones ringing simultaneously interrupt me.
“Excuse me…” Hideki says, reaching to grab his phone, and Light does the same.
“There goes mine,” He says, and they both answer at the same time.
“Yes?” Hideki says into the phone, and waits, while Light doesn’t say anything. Hideki’s eyes widen, and he says in a panicked voice, “Light, it’s your!” He trails off.
Light looks up panicked as well. “My father, he had a heart attack!”
My own eyes widen, and I stand up, saying, “Well, come on! We need to get to the hospital!”
Twenty minutes later, all three of us are sitting in Mr. Yagami’s hospital room.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, have them call me if you need me to bring anything.” Mrs. Yagami says, care and worry in her voice. “Light? You take care of him, okay?”
“Sure.” He agrees, still slightly shaken from the news. Mrs. Yagami leaves the room, closing the door behind her, and all three of us turn to Mr. Yagami lying on his bed.
“So the doctors think stress was the only cause?” Light asks, the supposed rest of the question hanging in the air. ‘Are you sure it wasn’t Kira?’
“Yeah. To be honest, I thought it was Kira when I first collapsed, but I’ll be alright.” He reassures his son. “It seems I’ve been pushing myself a bit too hard lately.”
“Indeed.” Hideki adds. “It must have added to your stress knowing that your son is a suspect in this investigation.”
Light looks over at him, offended. “You actually told my father that?”
“Yes.” Hideki says, with no emotion in his eyes. “In fact, I’ve told him everything. It’s true, he even knows that I am L.”
Light and I both look back to Mr. Yagami, but he looks at me. Hideki picks up on this, and says, “Don’t worry about Tsukino-san. She figured everything out already, and I believe that we can trust her. She may turn out to be an integral part of the team.”
I raise an eyebrow, but don’t comment on the implications of his words.
Mr. Yagami nods, turns back to Light, and says, “That’s correct. This man is L. To protect his identity, we on the Task Force refer to him as Ryuzaki, but make no mistake, it’s him.”
We both look at Ryuzaki, and I think, ‘Well, it really is him. We don’t have to kill him now, we can bide our time and watch. You just keep upping the ante, don’t you, L?’
“So, Ryuzaki-san,” Mr. Yagami asks, “now that you’ve had the chance to talk to my son, is he cleared as a suspect?”
“When I say I suspect him,” Ryuzaki explains, “be assured that it’s very minor. We’ve gone over this, but I’ll explain it again. Not long ago, Kira killed twelve FBI agents who had come to Japan to assist us. They were instructed to follow people connected to the Japanese police. One of these agents, Raye Penber, exhibited unusual behaviour before he died.”
Light leans back in his chair, and crosses his arms. “I understand. And I was one of the people Raye Penber was investigating before he died, right? It only makes sense that I’d be a suspect. No, to be more precise, there’s no one else you could suspect.”
I raise an eyebrow at Light, but make no comment. ‘What on earth are you doing, Light-kun? Digging your own grave?’
Ryuzaki looks at Light a few seconds longer, before speaking. “I find Light’s deductive reasoning impressive. He’s always quick and to the point.”
Light steels himself, and says, “Ryuga, I’d like to help with the investigation. My father has erased any doubts I might have had about your true identity. Also, I’d like to catch Kira so I can prove, once and for all, that I’m not him.”
“No, Light.” Mr. Yagami discourages. “This is a time in your life when you should be studying to become a police officer. It won’t be too late to join us once you are done.”
“Come on dad, what are you talking about?” Light asks, disappointment in his voice. “Who knows how many years that’ll take? Besides, don’t you remember my promise? That if something ever happened to you, I would find Kira, and make sure he gets executed.” He looks down at his lap, determination on his face.
A few tense seconds pass, before Mr. Yagami speaks again. “Light, listen to me. Kira is pure evil, we can all agree on that. But recently, I’ve starting thinking of this situation in a whole different way. What is truly evil is the power to kill people, and any person who has come to possess this power is cursed. No matter how you use it, no true happiness can be obtained like that, not by killing other people.”
“I think you’re absolutely right.” Ryuzaki says, grabbing everyone’s attention. “If Kira is just a normal person who somehow obtained this awful power, I would say that he’s cursed.”
“Ryuzaki-san, I’m sorry for all this trouble, but I’ll be back at work as soon as the doctors let me out of here.” Mr. Yagami apologizes, before the door opens, and a nurse comes in.
“Excuse me, but visiting hours were over ten minutes ago.” She informs us, and I nod.
“Thank you, we’ll be leaving shortly.” I say, and she leaves. I turn to Ryuzaki and Light, and ask, “Shall we?” They both nod, say their goodbyes, and leave.
Just before I leave the room, I hear Mr. Yagami say, “Tsukino-san?” I turn back to him from the doorway, and he continues. “You’re a bright young woman with a great future. Don’t throw your life away for this investigation.”
I sigh, and say, “I’d rather lose my life in order to save others, than protect my own life and lose innocents in the process.”
He nods. “You have a strong sense of justice, Tsukino-san. Have a good night.”
I wave. “Good night, Yagami-san.”
Once outside, I interrupt a conversation between Light and Ryuzaki.
“Well, that’s no good, I can’t deprive you of basic human rights.” Ryuzaki explains, “Furthermore, it would be complete nonsense for the investigator to take suggestions from the suspect.”
Light nods. “I understand.”
Ryuzaki sighs. “Don’t worry so much. Be patient, it will become apparent to us whether or not you’re Kira. And listening to that conversation between you and your father, I was almost convinced you might not be him. Light,” A note of emotion, concern, enters his voice. “Please take good care of Yagami-san.”
“Of course. Oh, and one more thing.” Light adds. “I know I agreed to help with the investigation, but I don’t think I’ll be able to do much until my father is healthy again.”
Ryuzaki nods in understanding. “Yes, of course.”
They say their goodbyes to each other, and Light goes to walk home, with Ryuk flying behind him.
Ryuzaki then turns to me. “Ah, Tsukino-san.”
I wave it off. “Please, Mirai will work fine. Should I call you Hideki, Ryuga, or Ryuzaki?”
“Ryuzaki would be preferred the majority of the time, Mirai-san, but I do require that you call me Ryuga when we’re at the university.” He explains.
“Very well then, Ryuzaki-san. Going off of what you said in the room, you made it sound like you’d already hired me to work on the Kira investigation.” I say, and if I didn’t know better, he almost looks a little disappointed.
“Do you not want to work the case?” He asks, not a trace of sadness in his voice. Must’ve been my imagination.
“Of course I do. You just hadn’t run the idea past me, and I became slightly lost. No big deal.” I shrug it off, and Ryuzaki’s car pulls up to the curb.
“I’ll email you the times and dates of our meetings.” He says as he gets in.
“How did you-” I start to question, before shaking my head. “No, never mind, you’re L, of course you know my email. Have a good night, Ryuzaki-san.”
“Good night Mirai-san.” He says back to me, just before the car drives away.
I stare at the departing vehicle for another moment, before turning and walking home, alone. ‘Before we had created Kira, and done away with all of the criminals in this world, you couldn’t set foot outside of your house in the downtown of Tokyo once the sun sets. Now, there’s nothing to worry about, wandering the streets, alone, at night. Too many criminals are too scared to commit another crime, for fear that Kira’s wrath will strike them down.’
I continue walking through the quiet city, and I’m nearly to the subway station, when a hand darts out of the alley I’m passing, grasping my arm. It quickly lets go, however, and someone starts choking and gasping from the alley beside me, and I hear a loud thud. I shine the light from my phone into the alley, and see a forty-year old man taking his final breaths. His eyes widen when he sees me, just as he dies.
I raise an eyebrow, as this was not one of the criminals whose names we had written down, however, the man had clearly died of a heart attack. I look around me, but see no one. I shrug, and continue on my way, thinking, ‘Odd… It’s like someone was protecting me.’ At that, a small breeze brushed through my hair, and I felt instantly comforted. ‘Interesting. Very, very interesting…’