Light runs his fingers across a particularly cryptic pair of sentences in the note. Once, twice, three times and the message remains the same; “At no point are you permitted to reveal that Akane Kurashiki is still alive. Tell, and I activate your sister’s detonator.”
Each time Light reads that passage, it feels like someone has punched him in the stomach. The reaction the threat inspires is far too visceral for him to process dispassionately. The thought of Clover reduced to a charred tangle of limbs, blood and organs. … He resists the urge to vomit. It is in his best interests to appear composed in this situation, and something like that would spoil the impression somewhat.
It helps that Light is a logical person. Perhaps to a fault. He makes the mental leaps to a less horrifying strand of information. Better to deal with facts rather than potential disasters. What interest does Zero have in Akane Kurashiki? It’s a disparate request, one that reeks of a great deal of personal involvement. He can’t shake the feeling that Zero has tipped his hand in the process. Light’s only recourse now is to proceed cautiously and to pay close attention to his fellow captives. This may yield information that could be the only real trick up his sleeve.
There is one person he is absolutely sure has met before. It’s been nine years since he last encountered Gentarou Hongou. Still, it’s quite easy to place his voice (unchanged by aging.) Light sometimes thinks he remembers every instant of the Nonary Game, and he’d certainly never forget the main instigator.
“Ah, Light. How interesting to see you again.” He has followed Light up the stairs. There is something about the way he says those words that makes Light certain Hongou’s clenching his jaw as he speaks.
“Yes, it’s quite the coincidence is it not?” Light endeavors to keep his voice controlled, his facial expression calm. His body is strong, but his mind is stronger. The tighter he can hold on to what he knows, the more power he has.
Hongou exhales. When he speaks again, his voice is oddly calm. “Frankly, I have no interest in engaging you in small talk.”
“Then say what you must.”
“Reveal nothing about the first Nonary Game.”
Light’s hand twitches, an inadvertent attempt to reach for the note in his pocket. Was I wrong? Could he be Zero, after all?
No, the note was very specific about Akane Kurashiki. Light decides that Hongou has his own agenda.
“Can you give me a reason why I should do so?” Light can easily guess, but it is to his advantage to bait his opponent.
“How about a motive? Tell anyone and I’ll kill your sister.”
Light does not respond. He expected that, but it's another thing entirely to hear it spoken aloud.
“Don’t attempt to deny that that brat is your sister. I remember the records from the Nonary Game. Do you think I’d hesitate to go through with it?”
Light’s mind conjures up a locked incinerator and a screaming girl. “Ah, I don’t doubt it.” He’ll always remember slamming his fists against a door that never budged.
Akane Kurashiki… Akane. Is this meant to be your revenge? Or is it Aoi’s?
“You need not worry. I will remain silent.”
“There’s something you should keep in mind though.” His little sister has been threatened twice in one night. A stabbing rush of rage suddenly overtakes Light. He wants nothing more than to claw Hongou’s face off. He reaches for the banister instead, gripping it until his knuckles ache. “Yes, you have the option to use Clover’s presence as blackmail. However, if you do murder her, kindly remember that she is the one thing that can possibly keep me in check.” Light’s smile is poisonous.
“And now I am thoroughly intimidated.” Light can almost feel the smirk he is certain is on Hongous face. “Thank you for the warning.
Light chooses to walk away, hearing Hongou’s laughter fade away as he does so.
Anger is good. It fuels action and planning. And it’s far, far preferable to fear.
He notices Clover’s unique set of footsteps catching up to him and then the feeling of her hand on his good arm.
“Are you okay?” Her voice is sullen. Clover often sounds angry or bored when she’s hiding behind a brave front.
“Why do you ask?”
“Other than the fact that we’re in this stupid game again? Well, you kinda look like you’re about to explode.”
“You’re coping by gallows humor, I see. Interesting tactic.”
“What?” Light holds out his wristwatch, and taps his fingers against the metallic screen. He can hear her jump a little bit. Explosions are not a hypothetical threat in this situation, so much as they are a very real danger. “Oh, crap, no that wasn’t intentional.” She’s giggling, somewhat nervously.
Light’s heart feels a bit lighter. It feels wrong to draw attention to weightier subjects, even though he knows he must.
“Listen, Clover.” Hearing the serious tone in Light’s voice, Clover falls silent. He pulls her a little closer. “Say nothing about what you already know about the Nonary game, alright? That is imperative.”
“…Yeah, okay. Why?”
He ponders it for several seconds. “It’s something I was thinking about just now. We’re in an uncertain situation again. Knowledge is power. Withholding knowledge can be even more powerful.”
Clover prods him in the shoulder. “Like the information you are clearly withholding from me?” She’s clever, his sister.
Light shakes his head. He places both hands on her shoulders and, with a deep breath, commits to the deception. “A girl died in my Nonary game.”
“What?” Clover’s voice rises into a shriek. “Why didn’t you tell me that before?”
“Shh. It’s an… upsetting memory. That's why.”
“I’m sorry, Light.”
“Don’t be.” It is an unusual thing, being consoled on a death that never took place. “I’m just telling you this to protect you.” That, at least, was true enough.
Clover seems to wilt under his hands, and Light hates himself for having inspired that reaction. “Okay I won’t say anything.”
Light pulls her into his arms, folding her into an embrace. She clings to him with a death grip. He can feel her heart racing, and she’s shaking. Maybe she’s suppressing a sob. Maybe she’s suppressing a scream. “Do you promise?” Light can’t help it. He needs to be certain.
“I swear, I swear. I won’t tell anyone about the Nonary Game.”
They hold each other for a few more moments.
“We’ll get through this, Clover. Trust me.”
He can feel her nod against his shoulder. “Yeah… At least we’re together this time, right?”
Light is about to agree with her, when he hears a commotion by the ornate doors to the third class cabins. He pulls back from his sister and takes her hand in a comforting grip. Clover presses back, and then she helps lead Light back down the stairs.