Death Note Redux

Encounter

Her friends spent the day fretting over her, others offered to carry things and take on her duties. It seemed her ordeal had made the local news. Light was hailed a hero; though he hadn't been named in the paper it was soon common knowledge that he'd been his sister's savior.

The hug he gave her, in full view of everyone who'd crowded to look out the windows to watch the two during lunch when he insisted on taking her to the courtyard, had been unexpected and unwelcome. It took all her strength to keep from shoving him away.

It was all for show. Everything he did had an ulterior motive, even this. A public statement of how close they were, of how much he cared about her.

"Where are you staying?" he'd asked, as he patted her head.

"I've been sworn to secrecy." It was the truth. "Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if something on me was wired so I really can't tell you."

His eyes flashed. "Dad said you were staying with a member of the task force. That's true?"

"Yeah, that's right." She would have to give him something, to completely block him out was to call for his wrath. "Someone from the task force."

"Someone?"

"Someone."

"Hmm." It seemed he understood. "Well, as long as you're safe..."

Right. Safe. Kira could kill her for this, but he probably wanted to get closer to L. She was being used on all fronts; there was a way to make this work in her favor, she just had to find it.


Haruka returned to the hotel around eight. Oakda had tried to convince her to take some time off, but she'd refused. Even though she knew her co-workers would have understood, that it was expected, Haruka was convinced that kind of vacation would make her seem weak. By going to work despite the attack she proved her dedication and professionalism. This was a chance to cement herself in their minds, to make them forever think better of her than those who came later.

"To be standing in front of the camera, just a day after being assaulted and hospitalized..."

"I know! Haruka-chan is really incredible!"

"I can't think of any newer models who would do that and only a few of the really great ones in the past."

"There was that one woman, she was in an accident but went right back to work anyway! She's still really popular even though that was years ago. I saw her on a commercial earlier today."

"I guess this is the kind of thing that separates the A-list from the B-list, huh?"

An A-lister? No. She was aiming higher than that, but it would do for now.

They were speaking right outside the dressing room; did they not realize she was within? Whatever the case it was gratifying to hear that their thoughts followed a predictable pattern, the one she'd been counting on.

In the elevator now she prepared for another encounter with Ryuzaki. She hadn't seen him before leaving that morning, but he would undoubtedly be with the others when she returned.

She didn't have time to waste on anger. It was better to ignore him entirely and go on with her day as if he didn't exist at all.

Upon entering the suit she was greeted with quiet. The cell phones and other electronic devices of the task force members were resting on a table in the entry way so they were there, but not in the open.

"They are reviewing surveillance footage, Asahi-san."

She drew a sharp breath. Watari. She'd been introduced to the older man the night before, after rendering the laptop inoperable. It seemed he was a master of silence. She'd not heard his approach.

"Good to know, I think." She was unsure of how to address him, but he didn't seem to find her informal speech offensive.

"Is there anything I can get you for, Asahi-san?"

"What? Oh, no thank you. I'll just go," she frowned. "To my room." An eye twitched. "Tch," she couldn't help the sound of annoyance.

Haruka failed to notice the smile on the gentleman's face as she disappeared from view. It had been a long while since he'd dealt directly with a teenager, even longer since he had regular contact with a young lady. If nothing else this would be an interesting turn of events and a reprieve from the daily hassles that came with working under L.

That wasn't a complaint on his part, he thought of the boy as something like a son, but L was very set in his ways. It could do him no harm to contend with another strong willed person face-to-face. Perhaps he would learn something.

If there was one thing Watari might complain about in relation to his employer, it was his ego. However, he would never argue that it wasn't warranted. Young as he was L had risen to hold the positions of first, second, and third ranked detectives the world over. There were few who could stand up to him with any kind of confidence, even if they didn't know who he was. He exuded authority; odd as his habits were he'd never had trouble exerting influence when necessary.

He was very much a liar, willing to skirt the law to find the end of a case and had few scruples about using others to do his dirty work.

Still, Watari did not think him 'evil'. No, L was on the side of the just. However whether he thought Haruka just or not was still up to speculation. As yet he'd not said much on the topic of his observations, but it would be foolish to equate his lack of communication with a lack of attention to the subject.

Yes, he likely thought of her as a subject. Something to be watched and understood. L had very little experience with the general populace, his people skills were atrocious, and even less experience with women. Had he ever found them provocative he would have poured time and resources into studying the fairer sex, but he'd never had the inclination. Now, with one right under his nose, he would be obligated to study or risk loosing the chance forever.

For now it seemed the Kira case was growing cold. Surveillance had turned up a few interesting moments, but nothing that pointed to Kira's identity. This wouldn't end in a stalemate, but it might be beneficial to take a step back from the board.

It would be good for him to acquire the ability to handle direct passive aggressive behavior and it appeared that Yagami, Haruka was an expert in that field. L had yet to face this sort of test and Watari wondered how long his incredible patience would hold. It wasn't often that he faced one as stubborn as himself, in fact Watari wasn't sure it had ever happened.

They were due for a comprehensive one-on-one interview, but Haruka-san's schedule made it difficult to pin her down. She'd provided, with some coercion, her plans for the next couple weeks and had been persuaded to add a few days of down time to her agenda. Until then her days were full.

If nothing else the girl was a hard worker, at least in the areas she found interesting. She'd chosen her vocation and was totally dedicated to advancement. Watari had long ago pursued her school records, found that her best subject was English and at the time wondered why she did so well with the difficult language; now he understood. She liked English music and put in the effort to understand it. Arithmetic was not looked on fondly, so she only did well enough. The things she thought important were treated with care, the rest were purposely tossed to the wayside.

In that respect she was much like L.


Haruka would not have been gratified to find that Watari saw similarities between herself and the detective. As yet she was unable to look beyond her upset, she was trying, but it was proving difficult. She recognized this as a potential learning experience, he was the greatest detective in the world, but–

"... ill-conceived sensitivity..."

That jerk! How could he say it like that? And to her father of all people! Why not just announce that some under-aged girl had a crush on a guy she knew almost nothing about from the rooftop?

It wasn't like it had been a big deal. Okay, so she'd liked him, but how weird did he have to be about it? Wasn't that cause for self-satisfaction or something? That would have been a normal reaction, she could have at least understood that, but no, he took her stupid feelings and crushed them. Hadn't she already made it clear that he was not the object of those so-called 'ill-conceived' emotions? She'd basically insulted him to his face before he said any of that!

It was the idea of L that she liked, not the specifics, and now she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that L was not the kind of person she should harbor sentimental feelings for. He wouldn't understand them even if she did.

It seemed to her that Ryuzaki had probably never had any education in romance, far less than even she did. Her recent experiences were hardly healthy, but at least she could recognize genuine feelings when she saw them and be appropriately sensitive.

She'd been confessed to before, more than once, but she'd never been mean about it.

Maybe labeling what he'd done 'mean' wasn't fair. The insensitivity came from ignorance; then again, he seemed like the type of person to speak so bluntly that he might have said the same things even if he'd been aware of the social niceties involved.

If that was the case then he was just rude. If that wasn't the problem, if he really was wholly unaware, then he was nescient. In either case it was an indictment against him.

He was either clueless or bad-mannered.

Possibly both.

"Hmph."

She'd finished uploading a few pictures from that day's shoot, to make up for her lack of posting the day before and to help transition her followers to a new format. She was tired of taking daily photos of outfits no one would really see her in. Instead, she would slow down. The site was reaching a tipping point; were these people devoted enough to remain through the changes or would they fall off the wagon?

It was a test that needed to be given; she had to know how well she was really doing. There were many daily visitors to her site, but how faithful were they?

There had been a surge in hits because of the attack and she'd addressed it briefly, but it was difficult to say whether or not those people would stick around. The loyal, and there seemed to be a lot of them, had offered praise and words of comfort.

Thanks to all of your support I've gotten so much work that everything is really hectic now! I'm afraid I won't have time for all my Daily Look posts, but instead of that I thought I'd put up pictures from work! How does that sound to you? Would you like to see 'behind the scenes' things? I hope so because that's whats coming! It's getting hard to put up the pictures of all my meals, so I'll be regulating that a one day a week showcase. Don't worry, I'm not going away and we can still talk in the comments here! Also, I'm sure some of you have heard about what happened the other day, you can follow this link to read the specifics, but just know that I'm fine. I love you all sooo much~!~ –Haruka-chan

It was gag worthy, but they ate that kind of stuff up. Already comments of support were flowing in. There were a few naysayers who predicted her downfall, said she was backing off because the pressure was too great, but they paled in comparison to the passionate replies of those who took her words to heart.

-Did you not see what she went through!? And she's still posting just a day later! Who do you think you are? Does anyone know you? No? Okay then. ttyl or better yet not.

-Jealously is ugly, you should get off at the station. c'ya (Some people wear green all day long!)

-Ignore those kinds of comments, Haruka-chan! Real supporters are here!

-If you have something against her then why are you here at all? All you do is bring traffic to her site! Great job supporting someone you claim to hate. Guess no one ever accused you of being smart o.O

"Good." That was the way it should be. She'd never done anything to make them think she didn't appreciate their assistance and this only proved their allegiance.

She didn't need to worry about Ryuzaki or his lack of emotional intelligence. What was he to her? All he was good for was catching Kira, if he could even do that. Right now it seemed like they were about to hit a dead end.

Light wasn't foolish enough to mess up in the face of increased scrutiny and with no new evidence the surveillance would be pulled. She could think of nothing L could do to force her brother to prove himself, but she quickly pushed the thought aside. That wasn't for her to figure out.

He was the detective.


Yagami, Light was his number one suspect, but he had nothing on the boy except a gut feeling and his sister's accusations. Neither would stand up in court.

He had a plan, but it would have to wait. Implementation would come at a specific point, but until then he needed to occupy the task force.

"Continue collecting data on criminals, watch the patterns very carefully. If anything changes we need to be immediately aware. I do have a plan of action, but this isn't the right time to begin. For now we act helpless, let Kira think he's on the edge of winning. When the rug is pulled out from beneath him he won't be able to help getting angry. He may retaliate while in a heightened emotional state and that could expose him. Mistakes are made when acting in anger."

Speaking of anger, Haruka seemed to be getting over hers. She'd moved past glaring at him every chance she got to ignoring him completely.

Childish.

On the other hand so was he, so that wasn't much of an insult. If anything it was an indictment against himself. She was younger than he, still a minor until the end of February; her actions could be more easily excused and, as Watari had so helpfully pointed out, she was female.

If he'd been one to roll his eyes he would have done it at that moment. Her gender was no excuse. She was too sensitive, too bratty and too pretty for her own good.

He didn't use the term in a complimentary way. Her good looks had done nothing for her personality. She was used to having her way and almost incapable of accepting defeat; certainly she didn't do so with grace.

"She is young, Ryuzaki," Watari came to her defense. "You are right about her bad habits, but can you blame her for them?"

It wasn't that he blamed her, if anything it was the fault of her parents, but she did grate on his nerves more severely than anything had in a long while. The little terror was good at putting on a nice face for people she needed things from, but he was not held in high estimation, neither was there anything she wanted out of him, so he received nothing but attitude.

All of that was well hidden from the public. He'd placed undercover agents in her path before and they had nothing bad to say about her. Covert interrogations of those she worked with, people at her school, brought up no dirty secrets. If she had one it was the illicit relationship with her brother and she'd told him of that on her own.

Haruka wasn't a problem that needed solving, but she was most definitely a thorn in his side. The easiest way to deal with a thorn was to pluck it out and flick it away, but that would not fix the issues she presented. She was his closest link to Light and to send her off would leave him forever wondering what it was about her that aggravated him so thoroughly.

What he needed to do was dissect her behaviors one by one and then end the ones that bothered him the most. However, he had no idea how to do that. Even if he could pinpoint which actions exactly were causing his irritation, how could he put a stop to them? Playing nice wouldn't do it. She would mock him for it.

"You think pretending to be pleasant will get you anywhere? HA!" or "So, you like me now? That's too bad because I don't like you."

Yes that was precisely what she would say.

Returning her discourtesy in kind would only escalate the situation.

"You can't talk to me like that!" and "Who do you think you are!?" as various objects were sent flying past his head.

Her father admonished her for the behavior she displayed, but it was clear she didn't take him seriously and he'd never really threatened the girl with any type of punishment. L thought it obvious that she'd never faced serious correction in her life.

From what he understood the pregnancy she'd come along with had been thought to hold only a single infant, the boy. Her arrival was a surprise. A gift was the likely way her parents thought of her, something special, and they would have treated her as such. A pretty child with pretty manners when it suited her; there wouldn't have been many times in her life when it didn't, which would explain why no one interviewed had ever experienced this side of her personality.

She was well aware of how to act properly. She was choosing not to.

Matsuda, unenlightened as he was, had confronted Haruka on her the difference in treatment and for a moment L had felt sure that the man was about be on the receiving end of her ire, but the clouds passed as quickly as they arrived. It seemed she thought his question innocent and answered truthfully.

"He insulted me."

He knew what she meant, as did her father who passed a hand over his face, but though he'd spent far too much time thinking of it he could not understand where her difficulty lied.

That wasn't an insult! It was a statement of fact! Had her father not deserved to know why she was in such a foul mood? Why had that triggered aggression?

She'd been through a trying moment, he could forgive that lapse in judgment, but it had been a week and she still clung to her grudge with a vice grip.

His hands tightened imperceptibly on his knees as he murmured, "She is so irritating."

The words drew Watari's attention, but he refrained from speaking. There was nothing he could tell L that would remedy the situation and it was rather entertaining to watch him struggle. Ryuzaki had a good grasp of human nature, but his knowledge was general. Now, faced with a specific person harboring specific feelings for a specific purpose, he had trouble understanding motivations. This wasn't a case to solve, there was no definite conclusion to reach. Haruka had done nothing wrong, not really, and Watari suspected it was L's own ignorance that led her to scorn him.

He was still unsure of what had transpired during that first meeting, but it had been intimated that L spoke of something she took offense to and Watari had no trouble believing that. Still, he wanted to know the truth.

Ryuzaki offered no objections as he left the room and Haruka was not adverse to speaking to him when he requested her company. The task force had disbanded for the night, there was little to discuss at the moment, so he sat with her in the main living space.

Tea was offered and accepted.

"So, Asahi-san, I must admit to being curious as to what he did." He did not feel the need to preface his questioning.

"Did he put you up to this?" she asked, defensive.

"No, he did not."

He waited in silence as she considered whether or not she believed him.

"He said I had an 'ill-conceived sensitivity' to my father." Watari coughed, nearly spilled his drink and failed to recover before she noticed his mistake. "I don't care what he calls it, but why did he say it to my dad!? Who does that?!" She shook her head in disgust. "Is he really that stupid or does he just not care?"

"Asahi-san, it isn't that he doesn't care," probably, "and I don't think stupidity is the proper term either, but he does have a slight... deficiency," Ryuzaki wouldn't appreciate that word, "when it comes to understanding how others feel. Especially if it isn't work related."

"That's no excuse! How could he say that and then be confused by my righteous indignation?" She ground her teeth. "I never liked him. I liked L!" She paused, seemed surprised by her admission and quickly added, "And it was only a little!"

"Asahi-san, don't you think it's time to explain this to Ryuzaki? He will never know if you don't tell him."

She'd crossed her arms and was shaking her head before he finished speaking. "No way."


This had gone on long enough. "Ryuzaki."

"Yes, Watari?"

"I have been informed by Haruka-san that you told her father she had formed an 'ill-conceived sensitivity' toward yourself."

He blinked, expression blank as ever. "I did."

"L!"

That caught him off guard. Watari had an immeasurable amount of forbearance and it was very rare that the supply was drained. Regardless he failed to understand his meaning so he said nothing.

When his long-time caretaker heaved a sigh and refrained from continuing for several minutes he spoke again. "I do not see where you mean to bring this train of thought, Watari."

"It was not what you said that upset her so much as it was to whom you said it."

A light bulb.

"Ah."

He understood.


Or so he thought, but his apology was not well received.

"You can't just apologize!" She brought her hands up, held them out in front of herself as she shook. "You told my father that I had stupid crush on you! Who do you think you are?! Why would you do that!?" She stamped her foot. "In what universe does that seem like a good idea?! GET OUT!"

He had the sense to leave the area before she started flinging things.


"I may have made a mistake."

He thought that was an apology?

"It might have been insensitive of me."

MIGHT have been insensitive?!

"OH MY GOD!"

She couldn't stand him. He was an idiot. An absolute idiot!

The second laptop hit the wall outside her bedroom door.


"Hey, does Haruka-chan seem kind of tense to you?"

"Oh my gosh yes! Not like it's affecting her work or anything, but like something unpleasant happened."

"Do you think someone might have said something rude to her?"

"Maybe. There's always going to be that jealous type. It might have been a shock to her. She's so nice, she might not expect someone to be mean!"

Much to her secret displeasure Haruka received pep-talks from more than one person on the set that afternoon.


"Wow," Matsuda spoke up once Haruka had stalked through the room. "Did you do something to her, Ryuzaki?" His question was met with sighs and shaking heads. "What?"


Light was entirely oblivious to Haruka's trials. He had his own life to worry about. Not only was he sexually frustrated, plagued by dreams of his sister and then left wanting, but her dream, of his death, troubled him.

Shot in a warehouse. Dying alone.

He didn't want to believe what she'd said, tried to convince himself that she was simply paranoid, but it was too coincidental. The path he was on might be leading to that kind of ending.

Ryuk was worthless. He had no idea what it might mean or if things like this happened on a regular basis in the human world. He'd never heard of anyone knowing the future in the Shinigami Realm or of any way to circumvent some predicted route.

Knowing about it didn't set it in stone. That one time, just the once, she'd successfully changed an outcome; this could be repaired as well. He would not die alone, he would not loose to L.

Haruka would come back to him and he would rule the New World as God.


Other Facts

A human may hasten their demise through poor choices and/or risky behavior, but can never lengthen their own lives. This applies to all humans be they Death Note users or not.


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