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Ruling Child

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Two more weeks had passed, when I was rudely awoken by a phone call. “Mmm, who is it?” I mumbled into my cell phone, half asleep.

As it turned out, it was Light. “I was thinking we should go to Spaceland today—”

“Invite someone else, goodnight,” I yawned. “Take . . . take Sayu or Yamamoto or Kayumi or Yuri or someone.”

“Come on, Mikko. It’s been ages since we actually went out together.”

“Yeah, because we have our entrance exams for To-Oh next month and some of us need to actually study, Mister Number One Nationwide.”

“And you’ve been holed up in your house for three weeks. That’s not exactly healthy, Mikko. You need sunlight.”

“Nooooooo,” I said, pulling the covers over my head.

“Okay, I’ll see you at the station in half an hour.” Light ended the call.

Which was how I unwillingly ended up at a bus station on a Saturday morning, heading towards an amusement park with my best-friend-turned-Kira.

“Good to see my best friend not being a shut-in for a change,” Light commented airily when I got there.

Ryuk snickered. “Told ya.” What’s that supposed to mean? Was Ryuk spying?

Speaking of spying, a man stood in the queue behind us. A quick glance told me that he wasn’t Japanese, judging by his sharp facial shape and narrow grey eyes. This is that FBI agent . . . what’s his name again? I sent him a mild smile when he caught me staring—obviously, I didn’t exactly look Japanese either, with my blonde hair and blue eyes.

I shook my head, clearing it of the thoughts. So if that’s the FBI agent, that means that this is the busjacking journey.

“. . . kko? Mikko!” Light said, apparently having addressed me several times before.

“Huh? What?” I mumbled dumbly.

Light shook his head. “When are you going to stop spacing out like this? It’s already getting you in trouble at school.”

I’ll stop spacing out when you stop being Kira, I thought. I shrugged, then said, “You know me, Light,” as I leaned against the metal pole behind me.

Light sighed, then changed the subject. “You look tired.”

I nodded. “Uh-huh. I haven’t been sleeping well, I guess. First there’s my grades dropping at school, now Dad’s been around even less than before, plus no one ever talks about anything except Kira and L, and I’ve been trying to draw my own conclusions on them.”

“Your grades wouldn’t drop if you weren’t sleeping in class, you know,” Light pointed out.

The metal pole was beginning to hurt my back. “And I wouldn’t be sleeping in class if Dad was home more and actually helped out with stuff when it’s not, you know, the middle of the night,” I countered, shifting uncomfortably as I stood up properly again.

Light pursed his lips together. “Okay, I’ll give you that,” he said, “but why spend time on Kira and L, then?”

I smiled partway. “Curiosity?”

“Curiosity killed the cat,” Light breathed softly. That’s a warning. That is most definitely a warning. “Or at least, the cat’s grades.”

“But satisfaction brought it back.” I paused. “Ah, the bus is here.” When we boarded the bus, I started the conversation again. “But . . . there’s something that’s been bothering me about Kira.”

“Oh?”

“Interesting,” Ryuk commented.

“I’ve been wondering . . . what does Kira get out of killing criminals? What benefits does Kira get?”

“Benefit, huh . . . it’s pretty unlikely that Kira gets anything materialistic, isn’t it? If he was being paid to do it, someone would have to know his identity, and he’d end up being revealed at some point,” Light said thoughtfully.

“So you’re saying Kira’s killing criminals of his own accord . . . through a sense of righteousness?” Shaking my head, I continued, “Light, barely anyone bothers to differentiate right from wrong anymore. What would make Kira any different?”

“Maybe . . . that’s why Kira’s doing it, then? To be different? To make the change that could, in his opinion, be better?” Light paused. “Then again, the whole idea is ridiculous, since killing people would make Kira a criminal himself.”

If I didn’t know he was Kira, I would have fallen for this—hook, line, and sinker, I realised. “Mhmm,” I hummed. “But . . . what do you think L would do next?”

“Why ask me?” Light seemed genuinely surprised.

“Because knowing you, you’ll have an idea. You’re good at this kind of stuff, Light,” I said, bu I could already feel my eyelids drooping with exhaustion. Damn . . . I wish I’d slept better last night . . . “And besides,” I said, “you’re interested in this Kira versus L thing too, aren’t you? I lowered my voice, in part because it felt odd to say it aloud, and in part because I didn’t want the agent to hear what I was about to say next: “You’re trying to figure out who Kira is too, aren’t you?”

Light recoiled, then tried to cover it up with a sneeze. “I mean . . . I am curious about Kira, but I’m not actively trying to figure it out—not with entrance exams so close by.”

“Please, you probably have all the subject material memorised already, Mister Number One Nationwide.”

“Stop calling me that.”

“Never.”

We both laughed.

“Hmm, you know what, I think I’ll just close my eyes for a moment . . .” I said, leaning onto Light’s shoulder. It was comfier than I imagined. “But, you know,” I murmured, “I can’t help but feel like we’re being watched.”

Just as my consciousness began to drift away, I heard Light say softly, “I can’t believe you noticed it so easily . . .”

I was jerked awake with a shout of, “THIS BUS HAS JUST BEEN HIJACKED, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!”

“Ngh . . . what’s going on . . . ?” I mumbled, still half asleep.

“Shh,” Light whispered, then gestured subtly to the guy who’d just disrupted my sleep.

I squinted at the guy, then whispered to Light, “Isn’t this that druggie who was on the news yesterday?”

“Kiichiro Osoreda,” Light confirmed, as murmurs filled the bus, mostly in the form of aghast exclamations of surprise.

“Cut the squawking!” the addict—Osoreda—yelled in our general direction. “Anybody makes a sound or move of any kind, I blow their damn head off!”

I winced—his voice was loud and fairly high pitched. In short, annoying, and, having just woken up, I was not receptive to it. “If anyone’s squawking here . . .”

From the corner of my eye, I saw Light suppressing a laugh, even as he pulled something out of his pocket.

“Hey, driver. You know the Spaceland phone number, don’t you? Call it.” Osoreda hissed, poking the driver’s hat with the edge of his gun.

The driver visibly shivered as he acquiesced. Poor guy, I thought, opting to ignore the fact that it was Light’s fault everyone was going through this ordeal. “This is Sasaki,” he said, voice shaking slightly, “driver of bus number one-two-four.”

“Tell ’em what’s happening,” Osoreda drawled, grinning creepily. I suppressed a shiver.

“Th-the bus has just been hijacked by a man with a gun! He—”

“Gimme that,” Osoreda interrupted, snatching the phone from the driver. “You hear that?” he asked into the phone. “Now listen to this. Take all the money you made yesterday, and bring it to Yuhihama bus stop—that's two stops before Spaceland—before this bus gets there. I want a woman delivering the money by car, no one else!” he said, waving his gun around animatedly. “You try to be smart with me, or call the cops, I kill every passenger on this bus! You got that?” Osoreda didn't even wait for an answer before ending the call, sniggering, and smashing the phone underfoot.

That’ll get rid of any chance of a negotiation, I thought, as the hijacker leered (and drooled, yuck) at the thought of what he thought he would be getting.

Then, I felt a light tap on my thigh. I glanced towards Light, who was holding up a note. Right . . . he’s going to get that agent to see it, isn’t he? Nonetheless, I read it through.

Mikko, it’ll be fine. I’ll look for a chance to grab the guy’s arm and pin it down so he can’t use the gun. Dad’s taught me what to do in situations like these, just in case. Plus, the guy’s small and weak-looking. I’m sure I can restrain him.

As much as I knew it was an act, I had to respond in kind. “Yeah, but isn’t restraining a druggie more dangerous than restraining a normal guy with a gun. There’s no telling how he’ll react.”

“She’s right,” a deeper voice sounded from behind. Light had successfully got the agent’s attention. “Don’t do it; it’s too dangerous. Let me take care of that.”

I raised an eyebrow as I glanced at Light. Can we trust him?

Light lifted a shoulder slightly. We’ll have to see.

“I don't mean to be rude, but you have a slight accent. You aren't Japanese, are you?” Light said, his voice low and calm.

“No, I'm American. My mother's Japanese, though.” he said cautiously.

“Do you have anything that will prove that you aren't the hijacker’s accomplice?”

“Accomplice?” I asked, doing my best to sound skeptical and slightly confused. I could feel my head starting to throb. I need to get my sleeping schedule on track . . .

“It's pretty common practice. They make you think there's only one guy, but he actually has an accomplice in the back to keep watch and come to the rescue if anything goes wrong.” Light said softly, his words directed at me.

“So if you knew there was a guy in the back, why’d you hold up the note so clearly?” I frowned. “It’s not like you to be that careless.” I was starting to throw him under the bus here, but it was getting harder and harder to come up with a reasonable argument without giving away too much.

Ryuk snickered in the background.

“I wasn’t anticipating he’d intervene—that’s why I thought he could be an accomplice. Most other people wouldn’t try to prevent someone from trying to restrain the hijacker if it meant a chance for their safety.”

“Unless they realised it could put them in an even more risky situation if the hijacker decided to shoot—and, like I said earlier, he’s a drug addict, which makes the situation even more dangerous.”

“Again, in a situation like this, most people wouldn’t think that far ahead. I . . . I guess I didn’t, either.” Then, Light paused. “But I still don’t know if I can trust you,” he said, tilting his head in the direction of the agent behind us.

I heard him sigh, and then a small ID appeared between the seats. Raye Penber, I read off the card.

“Okay, I trust you,” Light said, passing the ID back, “and right now, I won’t ask why an FBI agent’s aboard this bus.” A pause. “Got a gun?”

“Yes,” Penber affirmed, “I do.”

“So you’ll take care of it if something happens?”

“Yes.”

I felt Light shift beside me, and then he leaned over outside his seat, saying, “Oops,” as he picked something up off the floor. Paper . . . ? If I recall correctly . . . that’s Death Note paper, isn’t it?

My suspicions were confirmed moments later, as Osoreda demanded Light hand over the note and berated him when he saw it wasn’t important. “Tch! Drop something again, I’ll shoot ya! And that goes for all of y’all! Anybody makes a move, I’m gonna . . .” He trailed off, his voice trembling as his eyes widened in pure fear.

He’s seen Ryuk.

“WHAT THE HELL? YOU IN THE BACK THERE, YOU . . . MONSTER, HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN THERE?”

I winced, covering my ears. Does he have to be so loud . . . ?

“Hmm? You talking to me?” Ryuk drawled, likely interested. Then again, his expression made it hard to tell. “You can see me . . . ?”

Osoreda choked. “Don’t . . . move, just . . . stay . . . right there, or I’ll . . . I’ll shoot . . . !” He pointed his gun at Ryuk, waving it around in his general area.

Ngh . . . I think I’m getting a migraine . . .

Penber yelled something from behind me, but I couldn’t pick it apart. Ugh, my head . . . head hurts . . . I pinched the bridge of my nose to try and ward it off, but it did little to stop the migraine.

Ryuk began talking to Osoreda, figuring out Light’s plan to reveal Penber’s identity, but I didn’t end up catching a word of it. All his words seemed to blend together, as if I’d been submerged underwater. My vision began to blur with dizziness, too.

Why . . . can’t I think straight . . . ?

Then, for a moment, my head cleared as my left arm suddenly grew warmer.

Somewhere in the background, the hijacker got off the bus, and I felt Light’s warmth disappear from my side. Wait . . .

It was then that I realised my glove was wet. And, when I looked at it, dyed red. Is that . . . blood?

The second I realised it, my arm exploded in a sharp pain. I got shot. “Light . . .” I whispered, and my consciousness began to fade. Stay awake, I told myself, but with the (both literal and figurative) shock of being shot, coupled with my exhaustion and headache, it was fruitless.


When I woke up, the first thing I was aware of was that I felt like I was floating. The second was that I was in a hospital, if the crisp smell of disinfectant was anything to go by.

The third was that there was an IV drip plugged into my arm. “Whaz habbenin’,” I mumbled.

“Good thing you’re awake,” I heard Light’s voice crystal-clear. “But now, you’re also in a lot of trouble.”

“That, you are, miss.” That must be a nurse . . . ? Right, I’d gotten shot. “You received a bullet to the arm. You’re lucky it was only a flesh wound from a graze, but you still lost quite a bit of blood, and you seem to be suffering from severe sleep deprivation.” I winced.

Light shook his head. “You should have said something about it if it was this bad, Mikko. When was the last time you got a full eight hours of sleep?”

I hesitated, uncomfortable with the pressure. “. . . November.”

“We’re halfway through December, Mikko, and it looks like you haven’t gotten any sleep at all this week.”

“Two,” I corrected.

Two weeks,” Light amended. “You’re not helping your case here.”

“Excuse me,” the nurse interrupted before we could butt heads, “but allow me to expand on the details of your situation. You were lucky that the bullet did not enter your body, and that it didn’t cause any long-term damage to your muscles or bones. It should recover in little over a month, though there will be some scarring in that area.”

The nurse continued talking, saying something about the flesh and muscles rapidly contracting and expanding, and something about the stress of all that, before she finally got around to how to treat it:

“You will need to change your bandages every other day until then, and clean it when you do to prevent it from getting infected. We will also give you two types of painkillers, once of which should be taken in the day, and the other before you sleep. The second one is a drowsy medicine, which should also help you with your sleeping issues.”

The nurse continued to ask my questions about previous injuries, my mental state, et cetera, before she nodded and left the room.

Light sat down on his stool again. “I’m sorry. It’s my fault you got injured . . .”

I shook my head. “No, it isn’t. You couldn’t have known this would happen. It could’ve been anyone.”

“But I did — I should have been able to protect you, still. I should have pulled you downwards when he shot, I should have stayed on the bus with you when you weren’t responsive, I should have—”

“Now we’re talking about what we should have done, Light? Then, I should have been sleeping properly this month. I should have been more alert, I should have realised that the agent guy was probably telling us to get down.” I sighed. “It’ll heal in a month or so, right? And we can’t change the past. If you make a mistake, you have to learn to accept it so you can deal with it and do better next time.”

Light didn’t look any happier, but at least he’d stopped objecting. If I recall correctly, no one got shot in the original canon. This is on me.

“Not that you’d know—you barely ever make mistakes, Mister Number One Nationwide.” I paused. “Then again, maybe it’s about time you did make one.”

Light finally cracked a small smile.

“Say, what time is it?”

“Three,” Light said, without glancing at his watch.

I smiled. “Oh that’s not too bad, then. I’m surprised I was only out for, what, four hours?”

Light looked at me blankly. “It’s three the next day, Mikko. It’s Sunday. You’ve been asleep for twenty-six hours.”

Oh. Oh. Yeah, I really needed to get back on track.

“Anyway . . . they want the name of a legal guardian. Is your dad still abroad?” Light asked, changing the topic.

“Uh huh. He’s in Los Angeles, if I recall correctly. God knows what he’s doing there.” The conversation carried pretty smoothly from there, and I was dismissed from the hospital later that evening.

“You’ll have to stay at my place for now,” Light said, shrugging off his jacket as we stepped through the doorway to the Yagami house. “I’ll bring your stuff over, and you can change into something more comfortable. Mom’ll help you with that and the bandage tomorrow morning.”

I nodded. “Winter break starts soon, right?”

“Yeah, it technically starts tomorrow. They decided to move it up a little because there’s no point in going to school on just one day of the week.”

“Alrig—”

Kimiko!” Sayu yelled, racing down the stairs and promptly squeezing my torso.

“Sayu . . . I can’t . . . breathe . . . !” I choked out, gasping for air.

“You can’t just worry us like that!” Sayu said, ignoring me. “How did it even happen —you got shot! By a gun!” Sayu finally let go of me, just to throw her arms in the air in exasperation. “How?

I sat down on the couch, and gestured for her to do the same. “There was a hijacker that got on the bus we were on,” I explained. “Turns out, he was armed, and started hallucinating towards the end, and started shooting, and I got it. After that . . . he died, I think. Jumped off the bus and into traffic.”

“Oh.” Sayu’s voice was small. Then, after a pause, she said, “Hey, Kimiko? Do you think that’s the kind of person Kira would have killed?”

I looked at her. She wasn’t looking at me anymore, but instead at her lap, and her expression was conflicted. “Why are you asking me?”

Sayu shifted in her seat. “Dad’s not here, and Mom couldn’t really answer that. You and Light are super smart, too, but I can’t ask Light, because . . . well, I know he doesn’t like Kira, especially because the investigation is dangerous for Dad, and Kira is still killing people. Light’s against Kira, so he wouldn’t even consider him being good. So you’re the only one I can ask.”

I looked away from Sayu. “The hijacker was that drug addict who was on the news a few days ago. Something Osoreda. He tried to rob a bank and failed, and shot—killed—three people on his way out.” I sighed. “Yeah, that’s definitely the kind of person Kira would have killed.”

Sayu’s face darkened as she curled her hands into fists, tightening her grip on her skirt. “I see . . . so, if Ki—”

“I’m back,” Light said, stepping through the door with one of my backpacks. “Come on, Mikko, let’s go upstairs.”

I glanced at Sayu, who’s switched on the television. “Hey, did you know that Hideki Ryuga’s actually sixteen?” she asked. Her smile was a little stiff, but she was definitely getting as coy as her brother.

“Really?” I asked, somehow surprised. “He looks older than that . . .”

“He’s so cool! And I’ve watched all his interviews, and he’s really nice, too!” Sayu continued, and now her excitement seemed to be genuine. I patted her head as I got up, and followed Light into his room, where the pullout bed had already been made.

“I’ll sleep on the pullout,” Light clarified. “Since you can’t risk your arm getting hurt any further.”

I had been about to object, but I acquiesced. If I let myself do something stupid, it’d only server to mess things up for me further. “Okay.”

It took a surprisingly short span of time for me to get changed despite the injury, and I was on Light’s bed before I knew it. As I was taking my medicine, Light asked, “Have you told your dad about what happened yesterday?”

“Huh? Oh, no, I haven’t. He probably wouldn’t even care. And even if he did, what could he even do about it from LA?”

Light hummed in acknowledgement, then switched off the lights. “Goodnight, Mikko,” he said softly.

“Night,” I yawned, already feeling the clutches of sleep taking hold for the first time in a while.