“She’s—? She’s waking up?”
The voice that spoke seemed familiar, touching at the edges of my memory. It was feminine, but rough, and spoke in English.
I opened my eyes, to see a mop of red hair right up in my face. I blinked, and grey eyes stared into mine. “Chris . . . tie?” My voice was surprisingly hoarse.
“You’re finally awake!” Christie slumped over, seemingly sitting back in a chair. “It’s been months, Sienna . . . oh my God, you’re alive,” she breathed, shoulders shaking with what I assumed were suppressed sobs. Was Christie . . . crying?
I knew better than to ask, lest Christie get defensive. “Where’s . . . everyone?”
“I’m about to call them right now,” Christie said, already picking up her phone. For whatever reason, seeing the Samsung in her hand felt out of place. Why does it feel wrong? I shook my head. It was probably just me being disoriented.
Moments later, Mom and Dad burst through the room. Mom was already in tears, and Dad looked like he was close, too. “Sienna . . . oh, sweetie, you’re back!”
Time seemed to fly by as they held me, and slowly, things started coming back. I’d been hit by a motorbike. I fell into a coma. I nearly died.
The next few days, I was in basic motor and speech therapy, with one or more of my friends more often than not staying with me for encouragement.
“Sienna, I’m coming in!” Anna’s cheerful voice rang out. “I brought your comics, too!”
“Manga,” I corrected, smiling. Anna had been looking a lot better now than she had when I’d just woken up. Her dark skin positively glowed, and she seemed to be actually resting properly.
Anna just stuck her tongue out. “If you want someone who’s actually in on your weeb stuff, call Christie instead,” she said, still dumping a load of books on my side table. I picked up the first one.
“This one’s your favourite, right? Death Note?”
A sense of foreboding came over me, somehow, as I turned the cover. I quickly skimmed through it, and the first thing that struck me as off was the presence of a blonde girl about Light’s age, who was apparently close with him. I don’t remember her, I thought, thrown off. Something’s different. The new girl even had her own scenes that I was sure I’d never read before.
And yet somehow, I remembered them, somewhere, at the back of my head.
I skipped to the end of the first book, to the busjacking scene, where the girl got shot. I don’t remember this being here before, but somehow, it still feels like it happened . . . I raised my hand to my arm, where I could feel a phantom sensation run along it.
I grabbed the second book, to the part where Light began to plan out the deaths of the FBI agents. He seemed to want to be more careful now, that was for sure.
The Death Note isn’t as trustworthy as it seems. There’s still too much left to chance. I need to be more careful with how I use it. Mikko got hurt, after all. I can’t let something like that happen again, where I put her in danger, Light was telling Ryuk. His eyes were hidden in the panel. It’s my fault she got hurt, after all.
Mikko . . . why did that name seem so . . . familiar?
Mikko. Kimiko. Kimiko Yamada.
It all came rushing back. That’s right . . . I’m her.
I woke up in a cold sweat. I was in the manga, I realised, bile rising in my mouth. But I definitely hadn’t been in the real manga.
So does that mean . . . I’m now a canon character . . . ? God, this is confusing . . . I sighed.
“. . . Mikko?” Light was sitting at his desk, computer switched on and two notebooks open. One of them was probably the Death Note.
“I’m real,” I mumbled, still shaken.
Light’s expression shifted into one of concern. “Repeat that?”
“I’m real,” I said again. “I’m not supposed to be real.”
Guilt—no, shame —flashed over Light’s face, before worry took over it. “Is . . .” Light seemed to hesitate, then set himself. “You’re not meant to die, Mikko. You’re alive, and I’ll make sure you stay that way. That busjacking . . . that wasn’t supposed to—”
“I am dead, Light.” I was dead. I had died, and I wasn’t meant to float around this hellscape of a universe. “This world isn’t real, I’m not meant to be real in here, don’t belong here—” I cut myself off, aware somewhere in the midst of my panic that I was saying too much. “I shouldn’t be—”
I could feel my breath getting sharper and shakier, and I wrapped my arms around myself. I’m losing my mind. I shouldn’t be here, this is wrong. I can’t—I can’t—
“Mikko, breathe. You’re having a panic attack.”
“N-no, I can’t—” Can’t what, I didn’t know.
“You can. Breathe, Kimiko. In, out. In, out.” I felt his hands over my own. When did he come over here?
I tried to match my breathing pattern to his words, and, eventually, the attack ended.
Light pulled me into a hug. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, his hand reaching my head, which was buried in the space between his neck and shoulder. “I’m so sorry, Mikko,” he said again, and I knew he was talking about the busjacking—of course, what else could he have been referring to?
I shook my head with whatever room I had to do so, but I didn’t say anything.
“It’ll blow over soon, Mikko. I promise. Things will get better.” Light’s tone was dark. Ominous, even.
For the first time ever, Light’s embrace felt dangerous. I couldn’t suppress a shiver.
The next day, I found my thoughts wandering. What usually happens in those fics where an OC gets thrown into Death Note?
Of course, if I remembered correctly, they all followed one specific pattern: OC meets up with L, seduces L with her incredible wit and ability to not be like other girls, and they fall in love, then convict (and often execute) Kira because she ‘can just sense’ that Light is Kira, just because she already knew from watching the anime.
And there are absolutely no repercussions for it, because she blends in so well that no one suspects a thing.
Fanfic authors need to get a clue, I thought dully. L’s a lot more dangerous than a ‘kawaii quirky widdle angel’, and neither L nor Light would ever be victim to manipulation without seeing it coming a mile away. Misa was only able to manipulate Light because she held her knowledge of his being Kira as leverage over him, and he was fully aware of that.
I dragged a hand over my face, groaning. “Not to mention,” I mumbled under my breath, “I’m not really an OC, am I? I’m canon now,” I said, punctuating it with a mirthless chuckle. “That means anything goes.”
Wait. Anything goes, huh? That meant that I still had a chance. Misa . . . knowledge . . . leverage . . . Light being aware . . . canon . . .
“Eureka!” I whisper-shouted, reaching out to grab one of my notebooks and a pencil—
—only for pain to lance through my arms at the sudden strain. Right, I forgot I was injured, I thought belatedly, wincing. “Ow, ow ow ow ow ow owowowow,” I mumbled, clutching my left elbow as if it would make the pain stop. Tears rose to my eyes, unbidden. “Shi—”
“Dinner’s ready!” Sayu burst through the room. Then, her eyes fixated on me. “Did something happen?” Her tone was tinged with worry.
“Stretched my arm by accident,” I admitted.
Sayu sighed. “You need to stop forgetting that you’re injured.”
I shrugged—careful to only move my right shoulder this time—nonchalantly. “Well, there has been a lot more on my mind recently.”
“What, don’t tell me you like Light,” Sayu snickered.
“Huh? No, that’s not it at all, I’ve been more focused on the entrance exams—” Then, I realised what Sayu had meant by ‘like’. “Sayu, it’s not like that and you know it!”
Sayu, seeming to have had her fair share of messing with me, just laughed, going back down the stairs. But, unfortunately, it wasn’t like she was wrong, per se. I did have an on-off crush on Light every now and again, but wasn’t that normal? After all, this was Light. Conventionally attractive, smart, kind, and also someone who really, truly knew me. Wasn’t being attracted to him at times a given?
I shook my head—I was getting off track, I realised, as I headed down the stairs, the cogs in my head turning.
If I want Light to listen to me, I concluded, I’ll have to get him to trust that I have something worthwhile to consider. And for that, I’ll need to get more involved with the plot . . . if I recall the manga I dreamt about yesterday, my only involvement was with the bus hijacking scene. I let out a deep breath. That wasn’t exactly major, either. Yuri was in that scene and was never seen again after.
According to my notes, there was something big that would happen on New Year’s Day. Judging by the way things were playing out, if the FBI agents were to die within these few days, that would mean that January 1st would be the day of the confrontation with Naomi Misora.
I could, hypothetically, prevent Light from meeting Naomi altogether by just offering myself in whichever situation sent him there. But what would that do . . . ?
Well, for one thing, it would make Penber stand out less. Misora allegedly went missing after Light killed her in canon, so if she didn’t disappear, there would be less of a reason to suspect Penber’s targets.
But, on the other hand, that meant there was a chance of her information getting to L. As unlikely as it was that he would willingly meet with her in person, if she revealed this early on that Kira couldn’t only kill people with heart attacks, it would get L on our case much sooner.
Light’s case, I corrected myself. I’m not involved. Not yet, at least.
Then again, what would L do about it? Investigate every non-heart attack death that happened in Tokyo for clues? That would be far too time-consuming for him, and it wouldn’t do too much for the investigation.
The only problem would be Misora’s proof. If she let slip anything about Osoreda’s bus hijacking, the slot of time would only point to Light, and would just be confirmed by my gunshot wound. There wouldn’t, of course, be any proof that Penber revealed his name to us—hell, or even interacted with us—but L would get a lead much sooner, and the secrets of the Death Note would be revealed too early.
Unless I could dissuade her from talking to the Task Force in the first place, and just giving me her information instead. Even if I don’t have Light’s charisma, I should be able to get her to talk to me. If push comes to shove, the wound might actually help.
Plan made, I headed downstairs for dinner.
The atmosphere when I seated myself at the dining table was cloyingly heavy—moreso when I realised it had been almost three months since I had last spoken to Uncle Soichiro, let alone had dinner with the Yagami family while everyone was present.
Sayu, thankfully, attempted to break the ice. “So, why the family meeting, Dad? We’re not going anywhere for New Year’s, are we?”
I coughed pointedly, glancing at my arm. There was no way I’d be in any state to travel.
“Sayu,” Aunt Sachiko scolded accordingly.
Uncle Soichiro sighed heavily, “There’s no point in hiding it, it, as you’ll find out eventually anyway. So I’m telling you now.” A pause. “I’m in charge of the special task force that’s investigating the Kira case.”
“Wow! I mean, I guess I kind of knew, but still . . . you’re amazing, Dad!” Sayu cheered.
“That’s quite an achievement,” I said appraisingly. “As expected of you, Uncle Soichiro.” I noted Light stiffening slightly beside me.
“Thank you, Kimiko, Sayu . . . but that’s not what I wanted to tell you.” Another pause and sigh. “Twelve FBI agents were sent here to Japan to find Kira. Yesterday, all twelve of them were found dead.”
“Dead?” Sayu exclaimed, shocked.
“Yesterday . . . ?” I murmured. I had thought for sure it hadn’t happened yet. I tried to ignore the guilt I felt pooling in my stomach. I couldn’t have done anything for them anyway, I tried to convince myself.
“You mean they were killed by Kira . . . ?” Light asked, tone level as he looked Uncle Soichiro in the eye.
He nodded. “In other words, anyone who tries to apprehend Kira will be killed.” There was an air of finality to Uncle Soichiro’s tone, I noted. Light seemed to notice too, if his now-clenched fists under the table were any indication. I forced myself to not look at him.
“Morale is low,” he continued, “and a lot of my detectives have quit the case. But who can blame them? They fear for their lives. I can’t force them to stay on when we’re dealing with such a cruel and heartless murderer.” The temptation to glance at Light built, but I ignored it.
“Then quit,” I blurted out before I could stop myself. Then again, he’d never even consider it as an option—not when he feels his justice is at stake. Light . . . Light probably knows that too.
“Yeah!” Sayu agreed emphatically, leaning over the table. “What if he tries to kill you too, Dad?”
“She’s right,” Aunt Sachiko nodded. “Your life is more important than your career, all you have to do is resign.”
“Even if you don’t resign, isn’t there a way you can stay off the Kira case?” I asked.
“No. I’m seeing this case through to the end. I will not succumb to evil.” Uncle Soichiro’s tone was absolute.
“Dad . . .” Sayu murmured in awe.
“Dear . . .” Aunt Sahicko breathed.
“Oh . . .” I mumbled.
Light stayed silent, and I could feel him tense beside me. Then, he stood up, looking at Uncle Soi— no, if I wasn’t mistaken, he was looking at Uncle Soichiro’s forehead rather than his eyes. “I’m proud of you, Dad,” he said firmly. “You’re absolutely right.”
Now that I’d noticed he couldn’t meet Uncle Soichiro’s eyes as he spoke, I was able to tell that his tone felt slightly forced, too.
Light’s gaze was still unseeing as he got up from the table and continued, “And if anything happens to you, Dad . . . I’ll make sure that Kira gets the death penalty. I swear it.” He stared at his father right in the eye for a brief second, then tore his gaze away, only to lightly slam the door behind him.
He’s set a line for himself that he won’t cross, I thought numbly. He genuinely means that Kira will end the second his father—no, his family—comes into the crossfire. I tried to ignore the oppressive reminder that Uncle Soichiro would, in fact, die because of the Kira case.
I stared at the door Light had left through. Everything about his attitude after looking at Uncle Soichiro had screamed escape. “I have to agree with Light,” I found myself saying, turning back to the table. “And if your team is as dedicated as you are, no matter how small it is, I’m sure Kira will be caught.” My eyes flitted to the door again. “I’ll, uh, go talk to him,” I mumbled, quickly taking both Light’s glass and my own from the table as I headed upstairs after Light.
I opened the door to Light’s room hesitantly. “Light . . . ? I’m coming in.”
Light was seated at his desk, staring resolutely at his computer screen, hands still clenched into fists. He hadn’t seemed to have heard me. Ryuk didn’t appear to be in the room, either.
I sighed, walking over to him, even though he hadn’t registered my presence as of yet. “Light,” I said again, taking his hands into mine. Light blinked, his trance broken as I slowly straightened his fingers. There were small, crescent-shaped marks where his nails had been digging into his palms. “Light, look at me.”
His eyes were wide—desperate, even—and his lips were pursed tightly. Light had never looked so vulnerable before.
“Don’t push yourself too far, Light . . .” I murmured, gently hovering my thumbs over the fading marks on his palms. “I know,” I said, now specifying what exactly I knew. “I know you. Nothing’s going to go wrong. It’ll be okay,” I lied, looking him in the eyes. “Everything will be okay.”
Light nodded silently, still unable to draw words as he trusted my own blindly. Instead, he leaned forward, silently asking for a hug.
I complied, ignoring the guilt that threatened to take over, even as I manipulated him. As much as I hated to admit it, this was the prime moment to take advantage of if I wanted to do anything to help him. I needed to clue Light in that I wasn’t clueless about his Kira situation as subtly as possible. It was the only way he would listen to me if I were to say something to clue him in about impending danger.
And for that, I needed to keep the distance between us minimal.
It’s for Light’s sake, I told myself. “It’ll all end up fine. I promise,” I told Light, holding him tighter.
Light and I stayed like that for a long time.