When Yagami, Light returned home that evening he made a beeline for the staircase, his thoughts racing. It was ridiculous to think it could be possible, obviously it could not. A 'Death Note'? A notebook that someone could write a name in and kill the intended? No way.
He'd seen the book fall while he was in class, it was still on the lawn when the day ended. He would have left it, maybe he should have, but his curiosity had gotten the better of him. Anyway, why leave it? There was no point in that. At the very least he could recycle it properly.
And if it was real... Well, he knew it was nonsense, but if it was...
He paused on the stairway, registered the voice, and stepped off the landing into the open living room doorway. "Ah, Haruka. Sorry, I didn't even see you there."
"Oh? So, you weren't purposely ignoring me?"
"Of course I wasn't. I just have a lot on my mind right now."
She could practically feel the warmth he exuded. It was almost entirely false; that meant he was hiding something. "A lot on your mind, huh. 'A lot' of what?"
"Well, exams are coming up soon–"
"Please! Like you're worried about exams. I don't believe that for a second. If you really are on edge over exams the rest of us have no hope at all!" Her brother was incredibly intelligent, but he'd never been able to pull the wool over her eyes. "Anyway, you're home a little later than usual."
"Yeah, I kind of got distracted on the way back."
"The same distraction that made you miss your twin even though the I'm right in line with the door? Must be something amazing... It's not a girl is it?"
"What? No, no of course not."
She turned away, picking up the remote and hiding a smirk. She'd caught him off guard with that one. "Tch, boring. Sayu will be disappointed. Well, whatever, go and be boring alone then."
Light considered her profile; his vantage point was perfect for this task. Truly they could not be mistaken for mere acquaintances, they were obviously related and most were observant enough to peg them as twins. Fraternal obviously, though a few of their duller 'friends' had asked if they were identical.
No, not everyone could be an intellectual, but was it really possible to be that stupid?
Even those unobservant few recognized them as relatives. They had the same shades of hair, very similar facial structure, and shared eye color. The biggest difference between them, gender aside, was Haruka's long, thick mane of curls; a genetic trait passed down through the generations, from a great-grandmother on their father's side, that hadn't been seen in the family for decades. She'd lamented the gift in her early years, tangles and broken brushes were the norm, but as she'd grown older and more able to handle her hair on her own, she became fond her individuality.
Yes, his sister and he were much alike, but they were also undeniably distinct. Though they both had the capacity to be effortlessly popular, Haruka had put more work into that facet of her life than he. She very much cared about the opinions of others. Where he was studious, reaching the top of the nation in academics, she hung back. Hovering around the Better Than Average mark. Light enjoyed setting an academic example for his classmates, while Haruka wanted to be within the crowd, or perhaps a little bit apart.
She liked to be different, but not too different.
He'd always wondered about that decision of hers. Why stand with the rest when she could lead them from above? Generally he wasn't troubled by her life choices, but this one plagued him. He could not identify her motivations, but he was sure there was more to it than wanting to be crowned Most Popular Girl.
"Haruka, I really didn't mean to–"
"I know." She did not do him the courtesy of speaking to him directly, choosing instead to keep her eyes on the television.
"No, listen, I really–"
"I know, Light. Just drop it. Go to your room and study like you do every evening. Be sure to leave for your supplemental classes on time!"
She heard him ascend to the second flood, after a moment of debating whether he should attempt to say more, and scoffed as her mother moved through the area toward the kitchen.
"Was that Light I heard?"
"Who else would it have been?"
"Don't be rude, Haruka."
"I'm not sure she really meant that," Sachiko murmured, but she didn't pursue the conversation. Her second child had been in a particularly foul mood lately. She knew the cause, but there was little she could do to remedy the situation. Instead of beginning an argument that would end with Haruka stiffly and silently leaving for her own room, she took a seat on the sofa and asked, "Do you remember how you came to be here? You were such a surprise! Such a special blessing."
Her daughter rolled her eyes. "You've told me a thousand times, Mom."
The older woman continued as if the girl hadn't spoken. "Imagine it! Twins! We had no idea we would get two for the price of one. How you hid from the ultrasound machine I'll never know. I had more than the usual number of visits, your father and I were rather nervous first timers!" She laughed at the memory. "I don't think we could have been more stunned when the doctor told me to keep pushing! Ah, but I couldn't have been happier to have both of you in my arms safe and well."
Yes, the surprise baby narrative. Haruka had heard it before. Though she tried to keep up the angsty teenager bit she could feel the facade slipping; she could never stay upset when this memory was brought up. How could she, when her mother spoke with such love?
They sat together for a while, side by side, until the third and youngest child, Sayu, came into the space.
"Oh," she said knowingly. "I bet Mom told the twin story again."
"Indeed I did," Sachiko stood and straightened her calf-length skirt. "Well, it's time to start supper. Sayu," she added as the brown-haired fourteen year old took a seat on the floor in front of the television, "Please try not to get so worked-up over your shows."
"I can't make any promises about that. Hideki-kun is so great!"
Haruka obliged her sister by changing the channel. A drama starring Sayu's celebrity crush was airing re-runs in a lead up to a premier of his new show. Though he'd only had the role of a side character in the first, brought on to boost appeal when ratings were dropping, he was the lead in the new drama. His initial claim to fame came from a singing career.
Personally Haruka didn't find the man attractive. His hair was dyed, he often wore color contacts and his acting skills were mediocre at best. Sure he was also a singer, but she wasn't impressed by his vocal range either. None of that mattered to Sayu though.
"Wahh," she sighed. "Isn't he so amazing?"
"He's something, but 'amazing' isn't the word that comes to my mind."
"Why can't there be anyone like him in my class?!"
"Light! It's already six thirty, you know. Don't you have cram school tonight?"
"Yeah, I'll be ready in just a 'sec."
He descended the stairs, bag over his shoulder and thoughts miles away, though not so far gone that he didn't think to be polite and bid his family farewell.
"It's not fair!" Sayu was already speaking. She was sitting on the lounge, her older sister's head in her lap. "How'd you get so lucky with the curls? Your hair is so unique! I bet that's why it was so easy for you to get, hmpf!" Her speech was interrupted by a hand clamping over her mouth.
Though Sayu'd failed to notice Light, Haruka had not.
"Easy for her to get what? Sayu?"
Feeling like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car Sayu looked to her sister, to her brother, and back again.
Having gained the undivided attention of her younger sibling Haruka removed her hand and mimed slitting her throat in warning.
"Uh, easy for her to get... Nothing. Girl stuff. You wouldn't understand. Actually, you don't even want to know. Trust me."
He didn't believe what she said, but his accusation was cut off by their mother. "Light, shouldn't you be going? You'll be late."
"Yeah. I'm leaving now."
A chorus of "Be safe"s followed him out the door, though the voice he listened for was noticeably absent.
"Sayu come and sit down now."
"Only if I can leave the TV on!"
"Sayu this is not the time for an argument–"
"Right, so just let it stay on."
Soichiro had not returned in time for the family meal; had her father been there Sayu would have come to the table without any fuss.
The other two were already seated.
"Please? I really, really love this episode! Besides, it's not like we have anything different to talk about."
Their mother, who was not keen on fighting this battle, conceded defeat. "Fine, fine! But come and eat before the food gets cold."
A usual dinner with the usual side dishes, though served later than normal. In hopes of her husband returning in time Sachiko had delayed formally serving supper. Light had insisted he would be fine stopping at a convenience store; still, she would keep plates warm for the both of them.
The room was quiet for several minutes. Sayu remained fixated on the television while her family ate in silence. It wasn't until Haruka mentioned having an appointment the next day that conversation began.
"Ah, I just remembered. I think I'll miss dinner tomorrow. I have a shoot right after school."
"What?! No way! Another one so soon!? Lucky! Do you know what it's for yet?"
"I'll keep a plate for you."
"Thanks Mom. Sayu, it's for spring inspired accessories on a retail website. The agency said this company saw the shots from the first shoot I did."
"W-O-W! You're really hitting the big time, Onee-chan!"
"I don't know about that. It's just a little internet based shop, all handmade things so–"
"No, really! That's two in a month! I bet everything will snowball from here. So exciting! I can't wait for people to notice you on the street. Imagine someone asking for an autograph?" She clapped her hands together. "Do you think if I hang around the shopping center I'll be scouted too?"
"Even if you were," Sachiko interrupted. "You wouldn't be allowed to do it."
"Aw, but Mother..."
"Don't 'Mother' me! The only reason your father allowed it with your sister was because her grades are decent and she's promised to keep them up. Any slipping and she'll have to put this whole thing on hold. Your grades are barely hanging by a thread."
Haruka snorted as Sayu looked to her for support. "I can't defend you there, Imōto. You're easily distracted as it is. I really don't think your school work can afford to suffer anymore than it already does."
"What? That's so mean!"
"Besides, it's not as easy as you think. After this job I'll have enough money to get a decent camera and lighting equipment so I can start working on a blog to help build up my image. Because the agency is so small they're really insistent on self-promotion. This is a lot more work than you think it is. I don't even have a manager and unless I start getting a lot of offers the agency won't provide one."
"I could totally be your manager!"
She shook her head at Sayu's one track mentality. "Is that really all you got out of what I just told you?"
"No," she huffed. "I heard you, but I still think I could be some help."
"I'm not saying you can't help. I might need a second opinion on photos I take and things like that."
Sayu whooped and nearly toppled backward as the front legs of her chair left the floor, almost vibrating with excitement. "I can't wait to tell—Oh wait. Never mind."
Haruka bit back a frown. "Yes. Put that thought out of your head. No one's telling Light a thing about it."
"He's going to find out eventually, you know. Won't he be mad you never told him?"
Scoffing, "I doubt it and if he wants to be upset with someone he can take a look in the mirror. He's being unobservant."
"That really isn't fair to your brother, Haruka. I wish you wouldn't hold onto anger the way you do."
"It isn't anger, just annoyance."
Truth be told this was turning out to be more of a punishment inflicted on herself than Light. It hurt her to keep secrets from him, especially something as important as this; she couldn't remember ever hiding an accomplishment, or a failure for that matter, from him. That wasn't to say she hadn't tried, but it was impossible to do. He'd always known everything about her.
Barely four weeks ago, at the end of October, she'd been out with friends after school. They were windowing shopping when she was approached by a well dressed woman who introduced herself as Kinomoto, Asami, a representative of the Float Agency. Business card at the ready, and a pamphlet in hand, she'd complimented Haruka's 'look' before explaining that she was a talent recruiter. The teen agreed to think the offer over and brought the information to her parents.
Of course her father had insisted on completing a thorough background check on Kinomoto-san and the company before even considering the possibility. In the end everything checked-out and he, reluctantly, signed a parental consent form; he wouldn't have done it if not for the prodding of his wife who thought it a good opportunity, something singular to put on a college application.
One long meeting and a non-binding contract later, supervised by her father and his lawyer, Haruka was officially signed with Float Agency.
Her first job came the second week of November and it was an eye-opener to say the least. It wasn't that she'd thought it would be easy, but at the same time she hadn't been prepared for the hot lights, the time on her feet and all the clothing changes. Still she thought it interesting and, like her mother had said, it was good to have something like this on her resume.
That and it was a giant step in the direction of advancing personal ambitions.
She'd thought to tell her siblings at the same time, but chances came and went without Light seeming to notice anything out of the ordinary.
That was idiotic. She was gone far more often than ever before; there were many meetings to be had and trainings to go to in those first few weeks, yet he never said anything. He asked no questions. He didn't seem to care.
So, she dropped the bomb on Sayu over dinner one night when Light decided to take the meal in his room while he studied. It had been a rash decision to swear her family to secrecy, but she wasn't about to take it back. If Light didn't see what was happening then he had no one but himself to blame.
This only cemented her belief that they were drifting apart, faster and further than she would have thought possible. She'd noticed it at the start of summer break. If he wasn't studying then he was out with his own friends, sparing her only passing comments and fleeting glances.
Jealous? Of course she was and she felt no shame in admitting it, at least to herself. It was her jealously that led her to keep secrets from him, half hoping he would care enough to figure it all out and be very hurt by it when he did.
Yes, she was wishing emotional pain on her brother and no, she didn't see anything wrong with that. He would deserve whatever karma threw at him.
"Still, that's really not nice at all, Onee-chan. It's not like Onii-chan is doing it on purpose."
Haruka took a final bite of fried shrimp and cleared her dishes from the table. She had no use for this conversation. Nothing they said would change her mind and there was no reason to dwell on it.
Though Sayu protested loudly Haruka would not return the television to the previous channel.
He was shocked. Awed. Incredulous.
It had worked. The Death Note was real.
Just as he'd specified Shibimaru, Takuo had died an accidental death mere seconds after his name was written; in this case he was hit by a truck. The filth had been about to sexually assault a young woman in full view of anyone walking by. Even so, the cowards of the world would have let it happen and the other men in Shibimaru's group were just fine participating.
Trading one life for another and who knew how many more lives the scum would have ruined? The same for that hostage taker; he could have killed those children. What were the police doing? Trying to negotiate, to talk to the criminal, and for what? To put him in jail for a few years before unleashing him upon the public once more?
He couldn't stand to watch the world fall into ruin. Apathy. Violence. Depravity. The earth was a rotten place, but now... Now, he could do something about it. He could change the course of history and make the world a better, safer place for all those who tried to live good lives.
This was his destiny.
Sayu was in a state of bliss when Light returned. He could hear her rapturous praise of her idol from the moment he walked in the house.
"Welcome home, Light," his mother greeted. "Don't mind her."
He wondered which 'her' she referred to. Really, she could be speaking of either one of his sisters.
He put his annoyance aside in favor of playing the good son. "Don't worry, I won't be bothered by something as small as this. Actually, Mom, I was wondering if you could answer a question for me?"
The older woman looked surprised. "I can't remember the last time you had something serious to ask me! It must be important."
He smiled, looked contrite. "Kind of. It's just, Sayu was saying something earlier, but Haruka cut her off. I was wondering if you knew what they'd been speaking of."
"Ah," she gave him an apologetic look. "I think I might, but the truth is– Well, don't think badly of us, Light, but she's made us all promise not tell you."
He had no trouble deciphering whom she spoke of this time.
"I see. Thanks for telling me that much," he began his trek up the stairs, pausing to add, "You know, she'll be upset with you too if she finds you said even that much."
"That's assuming she doesn't already know!" She put a hand to her cheek. "That girl, though she came from my body I really can't tell what she's thinking most of the time. Sometimes I wonder if she's actually matured at all or if she's still about nine years old."
Haruka eventually relented and Sayu had been able to watch the premiere of Ryuga, Hideki's new drama not once, but twice because they replayed the first episode after the local news.
"That was so great!" she squealed. "Hideki-kun has to be the best actor in this generation!"
"Not even close."
"Aw, don't be such a downer. You're in the minority on this one. You just don't understand how everyone else sees him."
She couldn't argue with that. Ryuga was incredibly popular as of late and, for the life of her, Haruka couldn't see the appeal. If his idol status had been regulated to girls in Sayu's age group she might have better understood, but the fact was that he was a favorite of older teens and housewives as well.
No. Haruka didn't understand how Hideki held such influence over so many people and just thinking about it set her to grinding her teeth. She couldn't stand it! How was that fair? What had he done to deserve that power?
Though she despised the man she would remiss if she dismissed him entirely. It would be a folly to allow her frustration to blind her to what lay behind his mask.
She needed to spend more time thinking on this.
"I'm headed to bed now. Sayu, don't stay up too late."
"Yeah, yeah. The show's over anyway. Goodnight, Onee-chan!"
To the second floor she went, her eyes tracing the cracks around her brother's door. There was no light to be seen, could he be in bed already?, yet as she pressed her ear to the entrance she could make out the faint taping of his fingers on the keyboard.
She thought of knocking, didn't do it, and went to her own room instead. She didn't owe him anything; especially considering the fact that she was near certain he'd gotten some kind of information out of their mother.
A snort escaped her as the door closed. She'd heard his voice in the hall, mingled with her mother's. Though she hadn't been able to make out what was said they'd spoken for longer than necessary and there was only one thing for Light to talk to their mother about right now.
Still, she didn't think he knew the full extent of it; until Sayu cracked, she was the weakest link in the chain, her secret would remain.
She did miss dinner the next night. Not that she minded, it was actually a relief to not have to not talk to Light.
School days were fine. Though they both attended Daikoku Private Academy their class assignments were different; Haruka had no trouble avoiding him there and he never sought her out anymore. They traveled in different social circles so she had little worry of his overhearing anything compromising.
Her friends walked with her partway to the studio, chattering over each other as they gushed about being close to a celebrity. She laughed it off, waved away their praises, and flushed as they called her humble, admonishing her to take more pride in herself and her accomplishments.
All things she wanted them to say.
"Haruka-chan," Hirano, Minna looped her arm through that of her friend's. "I was wondering what you thought I should do about that test next week. You know I'm no good with the subject!"
"Haruka-chan," Yamaguchi, Sakura spoke up. "I need your advice about something too."
"So do I!" Yoshino, Yuuki interjected.
The conversation was a lively one and they parted ways, waving goodbye to one another, as they reached the station. Haruka was the only one in need of this transport today.
Her ride passed uneventfully, though she was suspicious of the wandering gaze of a man several seats away. He didn't approach, but she watched him warily from the corner of her eye.
She arrived at the location early, as she'd planned to, and was immediately greeted by an assistant photographer and the person who owned the items to be on the display.
"I'm really grateful you took this position, Yagami-san."
She ducked her head in thanks. "I'm also grateful that you thought of me for it! Thank you for this opportunity."
Makeup bag in hand she got to work brightening her face. She was not enough of a star to warrant any kind of assistance, though the staff seemed impressed by her easy acceptance of the situation.
"We've seen a lot of new talents let it go to their heads," someone explained.
"True. They act like they own the place!"
"It's really amateurish of them, but maybe it just depends on the person? Like, how mature they are?"
The only comments Haruka made on that subject pertained to herself and the fact that she believed she needed to represent her agency well.
"You've only been doing this for a short time right, Haruka-chan?" They'd moved to familiar terms quickly. "It's great that you're so professional already!"
What would they have said, she wondered, if they knew what I was really doing?
"Okay! Haruka, this is the first set! Oh, and here, I brought you a bottle of water. You must need a drink by now right?"
"Ah, thank you so much, Satsumi-san!"
A necklace, earrings and a purse. They were nice enough, perhaps not something she would wear on a regular basis though. They seemed a bit dressy.
She stood before the cameras, followed the directions she was given, and they soon moved onto the next collection of items.
This continued for two hours. In that time Haruka met several personal goals and by the end of it thought the day well spent. She was even offered one of the bags she'd modeled and accepted it with all grace and humility before being sent off with well wishes and a few unsolicited promises that comments would be made on her behalf to others in the industry.
"We really need more people like you around. It's great to work with someone who isn't full of themselves!"
They did not see the smirk that came to her lips as she walked away from the building.
"HEY! Onee-chan is back and with a new bag!"
"Here Sayu," she passed it off. "You can have this."
"Sure," a shrug.
The fourteen year old hugged her new accessory to her chest. "This is great! I didn't know this kind of thing happened in real life."
A small website specializing in handmade accessories saw a spike in orders over the next several weeks. They attributed this to the photo campaign they'd run with images of a new model, but, though that was a factor, it was minor in comparison to the power that the words of one teenage girl could have.
Sayu had bragged endlessly about her newly acquired bag to the quiet envy of her classmates, who in turn wanted similar items. She was easily persuaded to tell them where they could find products made by the same company.
The specialty lighting and camera were delivered Saturday evening.
Haruka had spent the last few days working on setting up the layout of her blog. She'd paid for a domain name though a website building service that billed itself easy-to-use. She was no tech wizard, but she did have aesthetic sense and it was surprisingly simple to make the site look the way she wanted it to.
The color scheme was chosen, the font type as well, and she'd used editing software to create an attractive banner. She'd spent some time browsing self-run websites of other models, looking at their layouts and trying to find out what drew users to them; they were all simplistic, photo based, and easy to navigate.
She applied those rules to her own site and felt that she'd done all she could with it.
"Hello? Ah, Satsumi-san! This is Haruka from– Oh! You remember me? Ah-ha, yes well, I just had a question for you..."
Her request was readily granted. Satsumi was glad to place a link to the model's website on her storefront page. In fact, she'd been asked a few times in emails if there was a place to find out more about the model in the photographs.
This exposure allowed Haruka to gain one hundred subscribers before she posted her first picture.
Ryuk arrived in the human world on December 3, 2006.
Haruka noted the whispers of neighbors as she and Sayu walked to a park with the camera Sunday morning after breakfast. They were speaking about the recent deaths of the world's most hardened criminals. It was uncanny, they said, too many for it to be a coincidence. Some were speculating that the government was somehow involved, that a coalition of the world's leaders had banded together and planned it all.
Other's a had a different take. They thought it was punishment sent by God Himself. It was too strange to be something done by a mere human. Even the government, as powerful as it was, couldn't pull something like this off.
Sayu had little to say about the matter; she was not well versed on current events despite their father's position with the police force, but Haruka supposed her sister, if pressed for an answer, would not support this kind of vigilante action.
Haruka knew nothing more about it than anyone else. Honestly, though she'd extended some thought to the topic, she cared little. She expected to be forewarned if anything tragic was coming to her household and if the sign came she would do everything in her power to stop it.
"Okay Sayu, your first day as photographer. Don't try too hard, I just want them to look natural."
"Right, so can I tell everyone I took these?"
"Whatever you want as long as they're usable. Remember, the theme here is simplicity. This is just a 'Daily Look' shoot and really it's more for your practice. After this I'm thinking we'll use the yard for most of the pictures."
She'd taken Sayu on as an employee. She was to be paid in products rather than money whenever possible, as per her request and as Haruka had anticipated.
Her family was predictable. Perhaps it was because they were related, but Haruka had never had any trouble foreseeing the actions of those in her household. The only one she couldn't always rely on to behave in honesty was Light, but again, she expected that of him. It took a certain amount of consciously applied skepticism to see through his Mr. Perfect act, but lately even she was having trouble discerning the hidden meaning within his actions.
Something was going on, of that she was certain, but she had no idea what it could be.
Death Note Facts
It is a common misconception among the Shinigami that the king creates each Death Note. He does not.