Haruka wondered if this meeting could be more awkward.
"Hello Yagami, Light my name is Ryuga, Hideki. I'm dating your sister."
Ah yes, it could get worse and L had made sure that it did.
She couldn't read the look on Light's face, his acting skills were top-notch, but she suspected a murderous whirlwind of emotions was swirling behind the mask.
"That's not true!" she spoke before he could lose his composure, grabbed his arm. This was not the moment to see Kira unmasked. "He's Ryuzaki and he's weird. And a liar."
It seemed that was enough to put Light into the character of the affectionate sibling. He patted her head with a laugh. "Well, that was sudden. I guess you'll have news like that someday though. I should prepare myself." Prepare himself to kill whoever was fool enough to think they could be deserving of Haruka. Surely this man's name wasn't in common with the pop idol, but even if it was, and he wrote it in the Death Note, there was a chance he'd kill the superstar.
"You call me Ryuzaki, Haruka, but to your brother I am Ryuga. At least for now. You may also think of me as L, but please don't use that name."
A tiny widening of the eyes, he couldn't hide it. Was this really L? He was a strange figure. Round-shouldered as if he had some sort of deformity and barefooted. Whatever the case he'd called his sister by name and she hadn't–
"Who said you could call me by name?!"
He very nearly sighed in relief; she didn't seem interested.
The urge to kiss her was repressed and in the larger scheme of things Haruka's non-relationship with Ryuga was hardly important. This threw up a solid barrier. He'd never dreamed that L would introduce himself! Even if this was L, even if he'd just given his real name, to kill him would be like signing his own death warrant. Be this some stand-in or not this person would have to live. The Shinigami Eye Deal was worthless. If this guy died Light would be, without question, the number one suspect and Haruka high on the list as well.
This was an unwanted development; L had claimed victory this round. To act out would only make him seem suspicious.
"It's nice meeting you, Ryuga," he held out his hand in way of greeting, but it was ignored.
"I told you he's weird," Haruka supplied an explanation as the offer was withdrawn. "A real freak."
"That's not a nice thing to say," though he agreed. "Different isn't bad, Haruka." An older brother scolding his little sister. It was an easy role, but not one he enjoyed. "Anyway I think we should get going. It was—" his parting words were cut off as Haruka pulled him from the threshold and closed the door behind them.
It was several seconds before he felt he could ask her to clarify without sounding suspiciously angry. They were within the elevator, being watched on a closed circuit television system he had no doubt, when Light questioned her on his most pressing concern.
"So, was that really L?"
Haruka had to hand it to him, he kept his character well. Even now, though she knew he must be burning inside, wanting to demand answers, he played it cool. Interested, but not too interested.
"I would say so."
"You're not sure?"
"I don't know how I could be. I mean, I really do think he is, but I can't exactly prove it. He's definitely a detective and definitely one of those people on the line between genius and insanity."
"And Dad believes he is."
More of a statement, but she answered in the affirmative anyway. "He does."
They exited the lift, drew eyes in the lobby and when they stepped into the sunlight more than one person stopped to watch as Light put an arm around her shoulders. An innocent gesture, easily perceived as otherwise; she wondered which he trying to convey. Was this a poorly concealed show of ownership?
"Light," she called his attention. "I'm really not dating Ryuzaki. I don't know why he said that." Another partial lie. She could guess why he'd told Light, but it was true that she didn't think of their relationship as 'dating'. L still hadn't told her what he was feeling. Kissing her was an unmistakable clue, but she wasn't sure that she could be happy about it.
"I know." His smile was false.
She let the subject drop. Nothing she said at this point would be enough to convince him; he was too agitated by the whole exchange.
It was a very good thing she didn't know L's real name. Light might have tried to coerce it out of her, would then find himself forced to kill her when she refused. Even if he asked her now, though she could honestly say she didn't know, he might feel compelled to end her.
Kira couldn't be trusted. Light wanted her, she knew he did, but if she became too much of a liability she didn't doubt that he would discard her. The moment his suspicions outweighed his lust was the moment Kira would strike and there was no telling when that would happen.
Haruka turned on the waterworks. She wasn't as good a performer as Light, but she could at least try to pull on whatever heartstrings he had left; maybe buy herself some time and sympathy.
With teary eyes she stopped walking, forcing him to stop as well. When he rounded on her, prepared to question the sudden halt, she wrapped her arms around his middle and said, "I'm sorry, Onii-chan." A false apology for not being able to be home blended into a real apology for failing to fix the underlying problem.
She still wanted things to go back to the way they'd been before. Why could they not be a happy family? Was there really no way to change the past? Light was Kira, she knew in her heart that it was true, but there remained an inexpressible sense of injustice deep within her psyche. He hadn't turned into a monster under his own power and if she could find and destroy the source of that power maybe she could have Light back.
It was a foolish wish, she acknowledged that, but she wanted it all the same.
She wanted so badly to believe the best in him when he hugged her back, saying that she hadn't done anything for him to forgive, but the too tight hold betrayed his real intentions. He was still upset and he still wanted her in all the wrong ways.
The curious gazes of onlookers were ignored and the siblings continued on their way through downtown Tokyo, both acutely aware that they were subject to lingering stares.
Haruka supposed it made sense. They'd always drawn eyes when they went out together. When they were small they'd garnered pats on the head and pinched cheeks, but now they were too old to be approached by strangers so people settled for whispering and pointing.
They couldn't think they were being discreet, could they? Like she didn't see those girls up ahead snapping photos with their cell phones.
"People are really rude," she muttered.
"I thought you liked having your picture taken." Sarcastic, mocking. He was still against the modeling.
"...You're rude too."
"Only to you."
That was true. He'd never say something like that to anyone else, not yet at least. She imagined Kira thought in that tone all the time, looked down his nose at all the little people, but Light couldn't afford to conduct himself that way. He loved to present that image of perfection. No matter the situation immaculate Light wouldn't conduct himself impolitely.
He never would have behaved that way toward her either; it severed as a reminder that the brother she'd once known was gone. In the past Light had been nothing but kind to and concerned for his family. This new normal was troubling.
She'd scrapped the idea of bringing up Kira's numerous miscalculations and now she needed something different to talk to him about, but the issue was put on hold when, for the first time, she was called on to give an autograph.
"Um, excuse me, but you're Ha-Haruka-chan, right?"
Three girls, wide-eyed and Sayu's age or a bit younger, approached the pair cautiously.
She looked to Light quickly, saw the blank mask take it's place on his face, and then addressed the children.
"I am. It's nice to meet you–"
Bubbly pre-teens, their confidence growing when she didn't shoot their approach down, who asked her to sign a magazine they'd bought, the one she'd been featured in with Amane. They departed in high spirits, arguing over who would get to keep the signature, when she called to them and offered to sign two more pages.
Their excitement was unrestrained; exploding in squeals and giggles they pledged undying support for her career and as they walked away each was already on her phone calling friends to brag.
She and Light entered a cafe a few paces away, some new trendy place that sold deserts and foreign coffees. Orders in hand they moved to the sit on the patio. It was too early for the lunch crowd and the seating area was deserted but for the two of them.
"Aren't you special."
The level of resentment in his voice was surprising, his eyes had that hint of red. "Wow. Bitter? Don't be jealous, you're still number one to me," she paused, then added, "and probably Sayu." His lack of response worried her. "It's good for me to be loved by them." Here was the opportunity to start on the Kira talk; though she'd put those plans aside the perfect chance had presented itself. "Better than what Kira's doing."
His sigh sounded exasperated. "What do you mean?"
"Just think about it. To be loved or feared? Fear is the easy route. It's not too hard to upset or frighten people into following someone, but having them do it out of love? That bond is much stronger. People can overcome fear. To have someone who is truly devoted is special. Kira doesn't understand that. Out of all the supporters how many only stand on his side out of fear?"
"I don't see why that would matter to Kira." He observed her over the rim of his coffee cup, wondered why she'd decided to speak of this.
"Oh, it probably doesn't," Haruka waved her hand. "But that just goes to show how short-sighted Kira is. Eventually people will rise against each other, killing one another for not supporting Kira enough and such. All I can see is chaos the world over. Human nature isn't so easily broken and to try and use fear to do it? Ha! Kira failed before he started."
Light bristled. What was she talking about? Insolent. Brat. What did she know of human nature? He was handing down justice! Kira was followed because people were grateful to be able to live in a safe world.
"See, I've thought about this," she continued. "I don't think I'm so different from Kira, not really. I want to change the world too."
"Do you? And how does being a model advance that goal?"
He was openly taunting her, but she wouldn't be forced off the soapbox just because he didn't like hearing what she had to say; instead she scoffed. "Did you not see those girls? They'll do anything I say at this point! Not because they're afraid of me, but because they admire me. Sayu is the same way with celebrities. The problem is that all those dolts on screen follow the money and waste their influence. The only thing people need is someone to look up to and they'll happily be lead along like a dog on a leash." She sat back, crossed one leg over the other. "It's better for them to follow me than the idols of today, better to follow me than Kira. I won't led them to violence and depravity."
The date went downhill from there. Light barely said a word to her for the rest of the day and the three hours they spent together were full of subtle glares and elbow jabs.
Ryuk was obnoxiously amused by Haruka's declaration, wouldn't stop talking about it.
"She might be smarter than you, Light! It's too bad she didn't pick up the Note. Now that would have been interesting! Maybe someone else will drop one."
Wanting to stand against Kira? To rise above him? Who did she think she was?
"Is this your first 'lovers-fight'?" Laughter. "What a thing to argue over! Which Yagami twin can rule the world better, Light or Haruka?"
Though he detested the way she spoke of Kira, and found fault with her fear verses love statement, she'd made a logical argument. There would undoubtedly be those who took their support too far and they would have to be dealt with. Even so, he didn't see the point in looking as far ahead as that. There were more pressing concerns; like the gothic-lolita blond who kept shooting looks his way as she approached.
"Ah, it's so great to see you again! Isn't it crazy how two people with so much in common can randomly run into each other?"
"Um," Haruka noted that Amane didn't seem to be speaking to her, rather her eyes were on the space above her companion's head. Strange. "Yeah, I suppose it is..." She chanced a glance at Light. His face was stony. "This is my brother, Light."
"Nice to meet you, Yagami, Light!" Misa held out her hand with an eager smile.
His greeting was reluctant, forced. Haruka didn't think he was even trying to hide his displeasure.
"So, uh, sorry Misa, but we were just headed back and–"
"No problem, no problem! I just wanted to say 'Hi' to my most favorite person in the whole world! See you soon!" And with that she was off, crossing the street and waving goodbye as she went.
Light offered no explanation for his ill-mannered behavior, though it hadn't seemed to upset Misa, and Haruka didn't ask. She wouldn't get the truth from him and there was no point in listening to him spin stories; what she needed to do was remember as much about that meeting as possible.
Misa had hardly looked at her. She'd focused all her attention on Light; that, in itself, wasn't surprising. Many women behaved that way around her brother, but the way Misa spoke suggested she was using some kind of code language, that she was trying to convey something to Light. Her statements could have been made to Haruka, they made sense in context and if she'd been unobservant she would have missed the implications, but Misa had not been speaking to her.
...two people with so much in common? What did Misa have in common with a boy she'd just met? She knew nothing about him. Unless Amane was referring to their individual relationships with Haruka, but that didn't measure up.
Her ...most favorite person in the whole world? Haruka didn't think she fit that description. Who was Misa's favorite person?
There was research to be done so she made no argument when Light declined to see her to the hotel room. They parted on the sidewalk with distant words.
Indoors once again Haruka moved into the elevator and spoke her question aloud.
"Who is Amane, Misa's favorite person?"
"She's a Kira supporter."
Ryuzaki opened the door with that impossible answer.
"What? Misa is?"
"Amane was involved in a murder several years ago, her parents were both killed. Kira did away with the criminal."
Who could have guessed that kind of thing was in the peppy model's past? She made no indication of having such a depressing background. She acted so happy, was she really hiding deep wounds?
"I guess it's no wonder then, but she called Light her 'most favorite person in the world'."
"Now that is interesting." He shuffled away and she made to pass, but he took hold of her wrist. "However, I think there is something even more fascinating than Amane's interest in your brother."
She didn't want to have this conversation. She'd almost forgotten that anything had happened between them. With Light's ire and Misa's odd words, were there not enough things to be looking into? Didn't he have something better to do?
It was unlike her to employ avoidance techniques, to hide from a problem didn't make it disappear, but she wasn't in the mood to listen to L try and deconstruct the situation. This wasn't something they should have to talk about, was it? Weren't things like this best left to grow naturally?
She couldn't remember hearing her classmates ever speak of discussing their relationships with their significant others. Everything spiraled on it's own axis. If a problem ever arose that was then things were talked over. That was the norm.
Somehow she didn't think a relationship with L would be considered normal by her friends no matter how hard she tried to make him behave like an average person.
Haruka put a hold on those when she realized she'd been towed to a room she had never been allowed inside before. It was bare save a laptop computer and microphone that sat on the floor in the center of the room; the lights were turned off. On the screen she saw the members of the task force, who appeared to be within the station, looking over cases related to Kira she assumed.
She declined to sit, watched as he knelt in front of the screen and pulled up an audio file.
"You said some intriguing things to your brother about Kira."
It was a moment before his words took root. "Wait. How do you kn–" she broke off, put her hands to her hair, looked at the back of her dress and turned on the spot. "You bugged me!? Where is it?!"
"Why? You could have told me!"
"No, your speech wouldn't have been as natural had you been aware in advance."
"When. When did you wire it?" She'd had the horrible thought, the terrible idea, that he might have done it that morning. "Ryuzaki, tell me when this was bugged."
She sat then, her back pressed against his, and sighed in relief.
"What would you have done," he asked, "If it had happened today?"
"I would have wrung your neck. I would have broken your fingers. I would have knocked you out, restrained you, waited for you wake up and then cut off your lips."
"Charming." That might have been the ultimate betrayal in her eyes. L couldn't help but feel that he'd sidestepped a landmine. "I don't doubt your sincerity."
She fell silent and he resisted turning to look at her. It was strange, having someone in this room with him, even stranger to be sitting back-to-back with that someone. Strange, but not unpleasant. Soft curls tickled the back of his neck as he considered their position.
To be involved with Haruka brought the possibility of serious complications, a few had the potential to be deadly. He put the chances of loosing his life over this at the eight percent mark and the most likely of those deaths resulted from her father becoming aware of the relationship.
Ryuzaki had put the meeting of the task force off until that evening; there was little to go over and he'd needed time to think. Watari was fulfilling his role as stand-in once more. They were alone.
Surely there was something that needed to be said, they couldn't jump head-first into a pool of romance. Spontaneity was dangerous, things needed to be planned and thought over. Kissing her that morning had been a mistake, a move he hadn't meant to make. He would have to regain control of the situation.
"What happened this morning cannot happen again." He felt her stiffen and as she rocketed to her feet grabbed her hand before she could storm out of the room. "It would be in our best interest if you could learn to listen before making judgments."
"Yeah? Well, it would be in our best interest if you would just say what you mean instead of being cryptic!" Yes, she did recognize that he'd said 'in our best interest' and it did give her hope, but how could he say something like that and not expect a bad reaction? "You are so dense, L! You can't just– just say things that way!"
"In what way?"
She sighed heavily. This required explanation?
"Like before. When you came to my door and said, 'Your feelings are not wholly unrequited'. You can't just say that! How would I know what you mean?!"
"Exactly! You assumed. So you were right, and I'll bet it never even occurred to you that you could be wrong either, but you could have been. And anyway this isn't all about you. For all I knew you thought I kind of hated you. You could have been saying that you hated me too!"
"But I wasn't."
"No, you weren't, but I didn't know that."
L understood what she said, realized now that his statements could have been misconstrued, but Haruka wasn't stupid. She hadn't seriously thought he might hate her, that was an emotional, irrational reaction likely born from insecurities. Irrational insecurities.
This was all irrational. What reason did he have to hold her hand this way? Why had she not pulled away yet and why did he find himself hoping that she never would? She'd not been kind or sweet or even-tempered. She was rude, bratty and too young. Her father would kill him if he found out about this in the wrong way.
He had no good reason to be with Haruka.
Except she liked him.
And he liked her too.
"From now on," Haruka continued. "You have to say what you mean clearly the first time! If that's even feasible and I'm not sure it is because you've been such a weirdo for so long that at this point it might be impossible for you to–!"
She wanted him to be direct. Once he'd pulled her down to eye level and, though he hadn't meant to, put his unoccupied hand to her cheek he said, "I like you."
Haruka avoided his eyes as she asked, "Just 'like'?"
"Then what else because I just told you to say what you mean, Ryuzaki! I'm a very straightforward person and–,"
"– and I didn't think you were dumb, but it seems like this isn't making sense to you and stop interrupting me!"
"I don't know what else." He was not ashamed to admit that he was without a proper explanation. "It isn't something I can explain," he paused and then added, "Yet." He would endeavor to find an appropriate way of expressing himself.
He was still holding her hand and, for the life of her, Haruka couldn't not be happy about it. She tried to tell herself it was nothing much, that plenty of people held hands, but this was... Different. It was different because it was happening to her and L was holding her hand.
"What I was saying," he said, "is what happened this morning can't happen in that way again."
"Oh." She blinked. "Well, fine I agree with that, but–,"
He kissed her.
And he was still holding her hand.
"Ah, Yagami, Light," Misa sighed as she sat on her bed. "I only met him this morning, but I just know we're meant to be together forever!"
Rem looked on in silence.
"I know he has a Death Note and I can tell that he's Kira! He has that aura, the strong, beautiful aura of a man who is bringing justice to this world. Don't you think so, Rem?"
The addressed answered with a warning, "Misa, I would be wary of Yagami, Light if I was you."
"I know you worry about me, Rem, but you don't have to! It's okay. My life is extra long thanks to that other Shinigami, the one you told me about, so the eye deal was no big thing. Light hasn't made the deal so he doesn't know I have a Death Note too, but Kira will be so glad when he finds out! Misa can help him and I'll start right away."
Rem was not appeased by Misa's lighthearted attitude, in fact it only served to increase the shinigami's concern. The blond had her head in the clouds, her mind imagining romantic scenarios, but Rem did not trust Yagami, Light. Contrary to what Misa saw through her rose-colored gaze Rem identified the boy as someone unworthy of trust. He had been cold toward Misa during that meeting, impolite even. Too stiff. Too indifferent.
It would do no good to tell Misa these things. Rem was well aware of her temperament; she wouldn't hear a word against him now. The only thing Rem could do was stand between Misa and Light, protecting Misa at all costs against that boy and his soulless eyes.
The Shinigami do not remember where they were before they entered the Shinigami Realm, however they are aware that they haven't always been there.