Naomi Misora was missing, likely dead. She'd arrived in Japan with her fiancee, Raye Penber, and remained after his death. L thought it far too coincidental for her to have simply vanished of her own accord and, considering his limited experience with the woman, he could not connect her disappearance with the easy answer of suicide. It was too unlike her. If anything she would have tried to find Kira herself; perhaps, to her detriment, she had found her target.
"Everyone, from this point I'd like to focus our investigation on only those people who Raye Penber was tailing. In particular he was assigned to two police officers and those closest to them."
Haruka arrived home first on January ninth. She'd skipped the returning ceremony, with parental permission, to go to a long photo-shoot.
"Good work today, Haruka!"
"Thank you, Manami-san. Drive carefully," she waved as her manager pulled back onto the street and made to enter the house. "Locked?" She rang the bell to no avail. "No one's home? Lucky," she fished a house key out of her bag, along with an MP3 player, and opened the door singing.
If there was one thing Haruka would never tell anyone of, it was her preference for English pop music. It was the sole reason for her good grades in the foreign language class. At this point she was able to understand the songs she liked and sing along without difficulty, but she knew she was far from truly proficient.
To make matters worse her vocal range was rather limited, but there were just some songs that demanded a sing-a-long.
"What is love, 'cuz baby I don't know, I got a funny feeling in my heart. If this is love, it feels like butterflies, so tell me baby is this how it starts? I know I never felt like this before, you're like a drug you got me wanting more–"
Up the stairs, singing into a pencil.
"You're, you're my number one. I'd do anything for you."
Past Light's door, into her room, pausing in the entry way to dance badly.
"You're, you're my number one. With you I know I belong."
She put her bag by the door, rifled through her dresser and found an outfit.
"Tell me what, what have I gotta do, 'cuz I wanna lay a claim on you. To make you mine, for now and for all time, so tell me baby what I gotta do, yeah–"
It was as she pulled her shirt over her head that she realized her letter was no long in the air duct.
Holy shit, she thought as her voice died. It actually happened.
That meant one of two things. Either Light had noticed and removed it or, the unthinkable, camera's and/or wiretaps had been installed. By L. Well, more likely someone working for him, but even so–
"You're, you're my number one. I'd do anything for you." She couldn't let on that she was aware so as her music played she continued singing while trying to push away feelings of self-consciousness.
Were they watching her?
"You're, you're my number one. With you I know I belong."
"There ain't nothing I won't do. I'd walk on water just to be with you, whooo... Baby, baby, you're, you're my number one. I'd do anything for you..."
She was in a bit of a daze. There were very likely cameras and microphones within her bedroom, well hidden no doubt, if not in the rest of the house. That would only make sense. Even if she was the only one under elevated suspicion they would need to watch her every move.
Speaking of 'they', exactly who would be on the other end? Definitely her father; that was a simple enough guess. There were three women in this house and if the task force was being thorough, and was there any point if they weren't?, then even the bathroom would be bugged. It would be considered courtesy to keep as many unfamiliar eyes away from the family as possible.
Well, that was one, but one set of eyes wasn't reliable, especially considering his position as the head of the household.
It was safest to assume that L was another observer. Whether he was or not made no difference, not really, but it was better to expect the worst. His title of World's Best Detective was obviously hard earned, but Haruka thought he must have some innate talent in the area. Plenty of people were ambitious workers, but not everyone could reach the top; natural ability couldn't be overlooked. He was likely especially good with details.
If that was the case then he'd probably detected her hesitation. He may even be aware of what she'd noticed, but it would be wise to continue as if nothing was amiss.
So she dressed, much to her embarrassment fell over once as she attempted to pull on black stockings while holding her music player at the same time, took her photos and then sat at the computer. All told it was nearly twenty minutes later that she left the house again; she had calories to burn and the rest of her family would be back soon.
L did not avert his eyes for the privacy of the observed, not even when she took a tumble and turned too red in the face for someone who should think they were alone.
He'd noted the pause when her gaze swept over the central air vent, saw her eyes widen; she'd recovered quickly, but he was certain Yagami, Haruka was aware that she was under surveillance. More than that, she'd apparently been expecting it to happen.
If you're reading this letter it means wiretaps have been put in place, likely cameras as well. I'm not surprised by it, but I think you should know that my brother is probably also aware of this. The truth is he's a lot smarter than I am, but I've always been better at looking to the future so I might have been a step ahead of him this time.
It would be best if you don't tell my father what's in this note (I'm assuming you're working together in some capacity).
This is disturbing to me on multiple levels, but let me start by saying I am reasonably confident that Yagami, Light, my older brother and twin, is Kira. I can't tell you how he commits the murders, but I can see changes in him. No one else seems to have noticed, but he's different with me, especially when we're alone (go ahead and take a guess at what that means, World's Greatest Detective-sama).
Maybe it was stupid of me, but I joined in the "game". As of right now he's unaware that I'm playing, he thinks he's leading me on and unless I make a huge mistake he won't realize the truth. He's too full of himself to imagine that I might be the one playing him.
You already know that he has access to confidential police data, that he's incredibly intelligent and that he seems perfect, but please believe me when I say that he is FAR from it. Though, I'm sure that in his mind he's perfection incarnate.
Maybe something has happened between now (for me) and now (for you), maybe everything is different and the case is closed, but I doubt it.
So, that's all I guess. I'm sorry I don't have anything but personal experience to give you, I'm trying to find out more, but he's very guarded and I don't think he wants anyone, not even me, to know the truth.
Her letter to himself had been found by those installing the equipment. It appeared to be several weeks old, judging by the slightly musty smell and damp feel of the paper. She'd used a thick envelope, but it hadn't been quite enough to fully protect its contents from the elements.
She'd incriminated Yagami, Light as Kira, though without hard evidence to support her assertion. She had insinuated an inappropriate relationship between the boy and herself and claimed that her brother would also be aware of the surveillance.
He was considering the things she'd written as she remained within view of the cameras; she was taking pictures of herself in a mirror on the back of her bedroom door, using her computer to make slight modifications and then uploading them to her website.
Of course he was aware of Yagami, Haruka's profession, he'd done extensive research on the families of the policemen within his task force. This one in particular was a student who'd lately joined a small talent agency by the name of Float and it seemed her abilities were well suited to the occupation.
She was easily the most conventionally interesting of those under suspicion, but not the highest on his list of suspects.
Yagami, Light held the number one position. As Yagami-san had said in her note he seemed perfect, too perfect. Regardless his guilt was not a given, L gave the teen a five percent chance of being Kira, and yet he got the feeling...
Unfortunately feelings were generally unreliable and even if they were correct could hardly be used to convict the upstanding, genius son of a well-respected policeman of being Kira.
Yagami, Haruka took second place. Her chances were less than one percent, but still higher than those of anyone else involved.
"I didn't know she went out of the house dressed that way," Soichiro spoke quietly, almost to himself, a frown on his face.
L was no respecter of whispers. "It is popular fashion. I assume she feels the need to dress to trends." Also, in his opinion, her outfit was nothing outrageous; then again he was not her father and he wouldn't pretend to understand the emotions that went along with that position. It would be a fruitless waste of time.
Yagami, Light paused briefly outside his bedroom door. His moment of inactivity was even shorter than his sister's had been, but still noticeable.
His father took issue with the piece of paper used to indicate whether or not others had entered his room uninvited.
"For a seventeen year old kid I wouldn't say this kind of behavior is particularly abnormal. When I was his age I did strange things too."
He also left the house not long after entering and by that time Haruka had been gone near ten minutes, but L's interest was piqued when Light took off running, leaving the front door wide open.
Faint, very faint, but there had definitely been a loud sound in the area.
"Watari, send squad cars to the area of the Yagami household immediately."
Was this man going to kill her?
Had Light finally realized what she was doing and put her on his hit list?
She'd been on her way back home, passing an alleyway, when a hand reached out from the darkness and placed itself over her mouth. She'd fought back instantly, yet it seemed that the things she'd learned in the self-defense training Soichiro had insisted she and her siblings participate in were lost to her now. In the heat of the moment, faced with an assault on her person, her movements were sluggish. This man wasn't exactly strong, but he was bigger than her and determined to get what he wanted.
Apparently that wasn't her purse because she'd dropped it and he didn't seem interested.
A bite to the grubby palm gave her a two second, ear piercing scream, and yet it seemed that no one would come. Surely they couldn't be the only people out? There had been plenty of bystanders near the store, had she not yelled loudly enough?
Perhaps there was train going by. Maybe her call had been drowned out. That seemed likely.
Am I afraid? she wondered as she struggled.
Only in the abstract. To fight was her instinct and she was close to home. If she could get away she'd soon be in the vicinity of neighbors who would call the police for her.
And that was when Light rounded the corner, grabbed the man holding his sister and slammed his head against a brick wall.
The police arrived mere seconds after Light to find Haruka exhibiting symptoms of shock, her attacker unconscious and the son of the Detective Superintendent on the verge of killing the assailant.
"Yagami, Light!" One of them called for his attention as others pulled at the boy from behind. "The police are here now! You can stop!"
"That scum!" he shouted. "That fucking scum!"
It took Light several minutes to calm, to shake his homicidal rage and act more concerned for Haruka than he actually felt so he could convince the attending personnel that his murderous anger had passed.
A pair of ambulances arrived shortly thereafter and both the siblings and criminal were transported to the closest hospital. Light insisted on staying with his sister.
Haruka was unconscious and he couldn't convince Ryuk to tell him the name of the offender.
"Don't worry about it, he'll be dead soon anyway!" The shinigami frowned. "Oops. Didn't mean to tell you that."
Soichiro arrived not long after Ryuk's slip to find his son pacing the hall in front of Haruka's assigned room.
His father got the full story, the truth as Light saw no benefit in lying. He'd been leaving the house to go to the convenience store when he heard Haruka's shriek, ran in the direction it'd come from and found her contending with the criminal. The moments after that were blurred, but he surmised that he'd managed to beat the man within an inch of his life.
"You did the right thing."
So his father said, but if he could have gone back and done it over he would have.
Not that he wanted Haruka in danger, but loosing control was unacceptable. Then again, he wondered if he had any chance of keeping his cool in a situation like that.
The trash had put his hands on her, made her literally scream for help and as the first one on the scene he'd been obligated to step in. He knew that even if the man did die he probably wouldn't be charged, but there was still a chance. He couldn't take chances.
It was too late now and regret was worthless. All he could do was plan how to respond should this go to court.
Several hours later the Yagami men were informed that Haruka had not suffered major injury, though she had several cuts and bruises and remained unconscious.
Her attacker was a run-of-the-mill druggie. Blood work showed that he was on some kind of hallucinogen and when he died at two fifty-seven that afternoon his death was attributed to an adverse reaction to the drug he'd injected about an hour before the crime.
Light was not required to go to the police station as he'd already given a statement.
It was in the wee hours of the morning that Haruka awoke to find herself in a strange, dark room.
An IV drip, a heart monitor... Ah. She was in the hospital, but she'd never been in a room like this one before. It didn't seem like the usual, sterile medical building. That wasn't to say she'd spent much time within hospitals, but she'd visited friends and she remembered, vaguely, seeing her mother after Sayu's birth. Those rooms had seemed colder, impersonal. Often the space wasn't even private, shared between multiple patients.
She was the only one in this room.
"Gah!" Or not. "Who the hell are you?!"
Large dark eyes, black rings beneath said eyes, a mass of black unkempt hair, and he was sitting in such a strange position. Knees pulled to his chest and no shoes? Who was he?
Was it possible that she was being visited by a spirit? The pale skin of this man almost glowed in the low-light, supplied only by a gap in the curtains covering a window. Could he be the previous occupant of this room?
She shot that worry down as stupid; he couldn't be a ghost.
Haruka tried to sit up, hissed in pain, and fell back against the bed.
"You're likely very sore. They've got you on pain killers, but perhaps the dosage needs to be increased. Avoid unnecessary movement."
Bossy. Stranger. Odd. Left alone with her.
Leap of logic.
His eyes flicked to hers. "Interesting," his thumb moved to his mouth. "Yagami-san, why do you suspect me of being L?"
"Uh, honestly? I don't have a good answer. But, my dad wouldn't let anyone he didn't know in here with me, especially not alone, especially after what happened and I doubt he's far away. I don't know you and, no offense, but you're a strange one. Don't they say geniuses are kind of...Off?" She paused. "Also, I can't think of anyone else who would be here to question me except a member of the Kira investigation, but I think I've at least seen everyone who could be on that team. Everyone except L."
Her logic was noticeably flawed and there were obvious holes in her theory, yet she seemed confident in her statements.
"I don't know why he attacked me," she said.
She was also impatient; she'd not waited for him to reply.
"I was just walking back home when he pulled me into the alley. I hoped to fight him off, but I don't remember much. I know I tried to call for help, but–"
"Your brother heard you."
"Hm, yes. When the police arrived, not long after he did, they found him pummeling the suspect. It took three men to pull him away. It's not surprising that you don't remember the rest of the incident. You'd gone into shock by that point."
Light had taken the man down? He was right. She didn't remember that at all.
"He's since been persuaded to return to your home, but he was here for several hours. He gave his statement to the officers and he's in the clear as far as charges are concerned. Though the suspect has died–"
"–the death has been connected to his drug use. He was likely hallucinating when he attacked you."
"Tch." Talking over her. Ignoring her. Not answering her question. She changed track. "Why are you sitting in the dark?"
"Because the light may have woken you sooner than you should have."
"Why am I in this room?"
"Because I should not be seen by the general public."
"So, you had me put here? Where is here anyway?"
"A private hospital not far from the one you were taken to originally."
"Are you L or not?"
"Does it matter?"
"Only a little." If he was L then all her romantic notions were dashed. It was a bit disheartening. Some knight in shining armor this guy would be.
"Only a little," he considered her answer. "Yet it does matter to you."
His inflection did not denote a question, but she replied anyway. "Like I said, only a little."
She didn't answer.
"You've shown no tendency toward timidity, yet this question you won't answer. I can only think that your reasoning brings you some measure of shame."
"It's not shame," she defended hotly. "And I don't really care if you know or not, but if you are L you can figure it out yourself."
He was silent for a time, something like thirty seconds, and then, "Ah. You had a misguided notion of L."
She looked away and pressed her lips together.
"What did you think L would be like?"
"Not like you."
She was trying to insult him.
"In my experience most people seem to see the character of L as a middle-aged man. Did you have romantic inclinations toward that kind of figure?"
"NO!" He was insulting her!
The shout called the attention of her father, who was just outside the door, and he strode into the room, momentarily blinding both occupants as he turned on the light.
"Haruka," he moved to her side. "How do you feel?"
"Fine, fine! I'm fine! Perfect! I wasn't attacked by a drug addict, brought to a strange place and left alone with someone even stranger or anything!"
L detected the relief on Soichiro's face. This attitude of his daughter's was normal.
"Haruka, this man is called Ryuzaki. He's the head of the Kira investigation."
Disbelieving eyes and a sarcastic tone. "Oh really? Ryuzaki? Are you sure this isn't the world famous L because I'm pretty sure–"
"She is in a defensive mood, Chief Yagami. Perhaps I should have been more gentle when speaking of her ill-conceived sensitivity for myself."
Her jaw dropped. For a moment all was still, but suddenly, and completely without warning, Haruka was yanking the tubes out of her arm, standing on the bed and throwing everything she could get her hands on at the offender.
"GET OUT! GET. OUT! You, you stupid, nasty, idiotic, rude piece of sh–!"
L was slightly surprised, though not terribly concerned and in no hurry until she pulled the telephone off the bedside table and made to throw it as well.
He dodged the projectile, but just barely.
"Watari, have the arrangements all been made?"
"Yes, Ryuzaki. Everything is complete."
"And her father made no argument?"
"He seemed relieved."
As he'd predicted.
"Ah, Watari, please be sure to remove any objects with the potential to be used as weapons from her room."
"Of course, Ryuzaki."
"I'm going where?"
After the overnight stay and a battery of tests that concluded in the late afternoon she was being discharged.
"Haruka, you must understand the gravity of the situation."
"Oh yeah, I get it, but that has nothing to do with this."
"As a matter of fact it does," he was against telling her, but Ryuzaki had given the go-ahead in case of defiance. "I know you won't want to accept this, but, well, the truth is you're under suspicion of being Kira."
"For Pete's sake!"
"Now listen to me," he took on an authoritative timbre. "Ryuzaki would not have suggested this if he didn't think it necessary. The best way to clear yourself is to go along with the situation. There won't be any real disruption in your life. You'll go to school, to work, as usual. The only thing changing is–"
"Where I'm living!"
"You wanted to move out anyway, right?"
"This is not the same thing."
Of course her father wouldn't have had any objections to this; he was probably glad for the extra set of eyes. She couldn't blame him, he was justifiably concerned, but L was another matter.
"Haruka! Tone down the language."
She was suspected of being Kira? Alright, that was plausible, but Light was most certainly the number one suspect. However, thanks to recent events, she was much easier to manipulate than her brother. On top of that L likely believed that she wanted to get away from Light and, if he did, he was right.
"Haruka," the older man spoke with warning. He was growing tired of her opposition; it wasn't unexpected, but his patience was shot. "Your things have already been moved–"
"In a day?!"
"YES, in a day."
"All my things?!"
"All of your clothes. Sayu packed for you."
"I thought you were against my leaving home. Seems like that was disingenuous."
"I'll be seeing far more of you now than I have in the last few weeks if that's what you mean." He sighed as he started the car. "Every few days you'll be switching hotels. They operate as the de-facto headquarters for the case and for now Ryuzaki doesn't think it safe to remain in one place for too long. That may change, he's said as much, but–"
"So, I'll have to live out of my suitcases until Detective-sama decides he can sit still? And what about my camera, my computer?"
"Your camera is with your things, but the computer will stay behind."
"I need it!"
"Ryuzaki is providing you with a laptop."
"Haruka, stop with the insults. Accept the situation and make the best of it."
That was the end of the discussion. Though she tried to spark another argument her father was having none of it. It seemed he was serious.
This was unthinkable! Haruka truly could not remember the last time she hadn't gotten her way. Minimal effort was usually expanded, whining hadn't been employed in years, and yet she'd failed to change his mind.
They walked through an opulent lobby and into an elevator that only opened with the use of a key card. She made a face at the camera.
The place had at least a four-star rating. A fountain in the foyer, a fireplace and sitting areas. The floors were polished marble. She'd caught a look at the restaurant and bar; women wore fancy dresses, the men were in suits.
Up to the thirtieth floor they went, near the top of the building. She followed her father out of the lift and into the middle of a hallway. There were only four doors here, two on either side of the corridor.
"This," he led her down the hall, to the furthest door on the left. "Is the suit. Actually, Ryuzaki has the whole floor, but that's just a precaution."
Of course he rented out the whole place, she thought sourly. Why not be rich too?
The door opened before he knocked.
"Welcome back, chief! And Haruka-chan! Oh, it's been a while so you probably don't remember–"
"Matsui-san! Hello, it has been a while hasn't it?" She'd been briefed by her father on the use of code names and as she swept into the room her eyes landed on 'Ryuzaki'. He would be difficult to miss, but she did not address him; she bowed to each member in turn, purposely ignoring the detective.
They murmured greetings, slightly concerned by the lack of acknowledgment extended to one, obvious, member.
Matsuda remained blissfully oblivious. "It really has been awhile," he spoke earnestly. "Wow, you've grown up so much!"
"Ah," she brought her hands to her cheeks. "That's embarrassing!"
She was an actress, a flirt and inclined to holding onto resentment.
Ryuzaki watched the exchange with a small measure of interest, however it was not enough to put other things on hold.
"Haruka-san." She glared at him. "Asahi-san."
"-sama," she demanded.
She huffed, crossed her arms and turned her head toward the door with her nose in the air.
The chief heaved a sigh as he put a hand on Matsuda's shoulder and pushed him away from the child. She may have looked like an adult, but she was still prone to bouts of immaturity. He took it as a sign of her comfort level; she felt safe to act out and he was grateful for that, but he would be lying if he said he wasn't tired of it.
"Asahi-san, you have been installed in the room at the end of that," he pointed, "hallway. The last door on the right. Go."
"You can't just tell me–"
Light was furious. He'd been the concerned older brother in front of the family at the latest dinning room table meeting, acted glad to hear that Haruka would be watched over by one of the task force, but nothing could have been further from the truth.
She'd been stolen from him, he would have to get her back and unless he was very much mistaken she'd been taken in by L. Who else could get their father to do something like this?
Haruka would not be so accepting of these events, but if their father was serious, if L was serious, there would be little she could do except throw tantrums.
"Dammit!" His fist hit the desk.
He was a freak. He was such a freak.
But, she didn't hate him.
"Pfft," she blew a piece of hair out of her face. No, she didn't hate him, but she didn't like him either.
She really didn't know what she'd expected 'L' to be like. She hadn't taken the time to think of it. Why did that matter? She'd only admired his skill in his profession, his ability to take the top spot, and maybe that had grown into a tiny crush, but that was over.
Ryuzaki was no knight in shining armor. He was rude. Bossy. Strange. The man didn't wear socks or shoes!
She slumped into a chair and took stock of her new bedroom. It was far too big. Clearly it was meant for more than one person with the oversized bed, reading area and breakfast table.
"Hmm. A laptop, huh?" She opened the new piece of equipment to familiarize herself with the controls. "I bet it's bugged."
That was his voice. He'd heard her, was probably looking at her right that moment and using the computer's system to communicate with her.
Enraged she stood, picked up the computer and flung it, with all of her strength and a screech of anger, at the wall.
The screen went blank.
"It seems she's broken the laptop."
A defeated sigh. "I'm sorry, Ryuzaki."
"No, no," he waved away the apology. "It was to be expected."
The numbers indicting lifespan at birth may abruptly change, showing a shortened lifetime, but will never naturally show a longer one.