They all know it, but Ide is the one to say it.
"I'm sorry, Touta." An awkward hand to his shoulder, half-aborted, hanging there by the fingertips. The first name might have been a social misstep. Everyone is listening, everyone is prickling with discomfort. "There's no doubt about it anymore, it's definitely her."
He comes to her all in white, like an angel, the first time, gilded at the edges by the blinding sun that filters into her hungover morning. She's sitting on a bench across the street from her shoot, smoking in long, self-important puffs, pink lipstick smudging on her cigarette. She's trying tirelessly to become addicted. It hasn't happened yet but she holds out hope.
He sits down brazenly next to her and says, with a grin that hints at some secret shared between them, "You're famous."
White is a holy color, but then, it's not the pure white of churches, of clean unmarred paper. He's wearing a long-sleeved shirt and drawstring pants, faded to a dusky, forgetful sort of white that's only there through mere lack of effort to cover it with anything else; a hospital white.
She nods, slowly, struggling between apprehension and the practical logic that finds her apprehension unreasonable, foolish, even. "Did you want an autograph? I'm on my break, but I'll make an exception. Just nowhere below the waist, okay?"
She slips a hand in her pocket, doesn't have a pen, and slips it out.
"I'm famous, too," the man says. He looks sidelong at her and she looks back and he is a crazy person, inarguably certifiable. He has a hungry madness in his eyes, and like recognizes like. She should be afraid, but then he looks so much like someone she used to know.
"Are you a ghost?" she asks, and she hasn't said anything like that to anyone in months, even when they took her off the pills, because if you say things like that they put you in the room and they take away your clothes, your shoes, your fancy things. They tell you no one you ask for can come and see you; everyone you ask for is dead; won't you be still? They put you all in white.
"Yes," he says, and she puffs long and unsteady on her cigarette.
He's lounging on her bed when she comes in with drinks, all in black this time, flipping through the contents of her bedside drawer.
"You know," he mutters as she soundlessly enters, "when I went looking for your Notebook, this isn't actually what I expected to find."
She puts the drinks down on her desk - martinis, gin; her cocktail shaker was imported from Germany - the whole surface of which is stained with ring-shaped markings, denoting its vast and intimate history with beverages of this ilk. A maid service does the place twice a week, but they're not allowed in her room.
"They burned it," she says. "Mine, and all of them, as far as I know." She shrugs. "At least, that's what I wrote."
"You don't remember?"
"You didn't read the pages on memory loss yet?"
He fingers the spine, licking his lips. It's a tick of his, she's noticed, and not the right one. He's not L, although he makes a good show of it. "I skipped ahead. Trying to get to the good stuff. I'm currently on the section where you attempt to calculate how many people you've murdered. Ten thousand? Twenty? Thirty? You've come to no clear conclusion so far, but the estimate keeps climbing." He looks tickled. "Someone's been a busy girl."
Misa would like to say that wasn't me, because she can't remember it, she didn't do it, she would feel it if she'd done it, but she's long past the point of thinking that she can cleanly separate herself from any other self that might have been. Back in the hospital there had been too many selves, all yelling for different things.
She sips her martini, chews her olive. "Like you've never killed anyone." She trails closer. He is reading her words instead of watching her and she doesn't like that. "I looked you up. You're mostly on a lot of lists of serial killers with ridiculous names, but they do mention your crimes. Those weren't even bad people."
He looks up from her from under his eyelashes. She thinks he might be wearing mascara. "Darling, all people are bad people."
She downs the rest of her drink and sits down beside him on the bed.
Written on the inside cover of Misa Amane's personal journal, January, 2010:
This is all real you cannot forget you cannot forget you cannot forget you are Kira you killed them all with Him and they killed Him and you have to remember you have to remember you have to save the world monsters are real gods are real there is no afterlife and you are not saved please just don't forget don't forget Him don't forget your power don't let them take it
She wakes with her head pounding and Beyond Birthday laid out beside her, like a corpse, staring wide-eyed at her ceiling. She can tell now that he had been wearing make-up because it's all smeared in dark streaks around his eyes. He says, "I can see Orion," and points, and she drags herself out of bed to make coffee, knocking her ankle against his on her way up and mumbling, "You're definitely not a ghost," after swearing under her breath.
They go to breakfast at a greasy little tucked-away hovel that he suggests, but the food is fast and she's not likely to see anyone she knows there. They discuss Light and L in detail, their respective perceptions differing drastically in some points, lining up flawlessly in others, and then swap secrets, in low, giggling voices. He tells her he has had the Shinigami eyes since birth and she tells him that she has been institutionalized more than once and he describes mutilating the corpses of animals when he was young and she admits that when her parents had been killed she'd been in the closet and she could have screamed and warned her mother about the man behind her with a gun, but she'd been too afraid of being found and hadn't said anything.
The first time they have sex is that afternoon, in his stolen car, slowly, thoughtlessly, and she misses Light so much that she can't breathe, craves his fingers on her hips, his breath whispering against the shell of her ear, all his grand designs and horrible schemes, she doesn't care what, she would give everything to have him back, and failing that would like to give herself away to nothingness, like a bride to her groom.
She'd had her suicide planned to a tee before she'd met B. He's extended the timeline, but not the end goal.
"I ate all the bones and I sucked dry all the marrow I wrote the poems and the ballads the whole story and still he is the one who got to do it it fell right out of the sky into his hands and I should have been there I should have been the one I should have killed him I earned it I earned it."
He comes while rambling to her unintelligibly and he barely slows his prattle as his body jerks and then settles, wincingly, before he pulls himself out and slides down her body to press his face between her legs. She can't hear him but she feels his words inside of her.
The first time they murder someone together is that night, breaking into the home of a police chief recently taken to trial for extorting sex out of young attractive female criminals that fall under his jurisdiction, in exchange for destroying evidence against them, and he'd been ruled not guilty.
Misa holds a fake gun to his head and tells him to be very quiet and not wake his wife and she sees the look of recognition in his eyes - yes, she's that girl, from the magazine covers - right before B comes up behind him, licks the back of his neck, and slits his throat.
"I want his teeth," he says, as they stand over the body, watching the blood pool black around it like a hole that keeps growing larger, leading deep down into the earth where the promise land will be found and she will finally be home again.
"Don't be gross," she says, turning away. "And cover him with his jacket; I don't want his children to see him like that."
He lives in a motel in Shibuya with stains on the carpet and no air conditioning. She enters that morning with the key he'd given her, wearing round sunglasses and the dress she'd worn to Light's funeral, and tosses two used First Response sticks down on his kitchen table, where he's sitting in his boxers hunched over a laptop and a bowl of cereal.
He doesn't look up. "Androcles is an excellent name. If it's a boy, I mean."
"I've got an appointment scheduled for this afternoon in a very discreet clinic," she continues, talking right on past him. "You'll come with me, of course, and hold my hand in the waiting room, like any decent man would do."
He spoons a hearty gulp of cereal into his mouth, droplets of milk spilling over the sides and falling in pale stains across his ragged t-shirt. "What in the world has made you think that I'm a decent man?"
"Well," she says, sitting down gently, simperingly, at the seat across from him, legs crossed at the ankle, "if you were a ghost, you wouldn't be able to reproduce." She neatens the folds of her skirt, which falls in pleated lines across her body. "Are you ever going to tell me how you actually escaped prison?"
He stands, walks across the cramped kitchen to open what he calls his 'Narnia Drawer,' and pulls out a prescription bottle which clinks with a heavy plastic noise as he sets it on the counter. It's too far away for Misa to read the label. It's not like it really matters.
He says, "I'll show you mine if you show me yours."
She moves, feeling spectral, hollow, to stand next to him. "You know why they let me go. Ruled insane." She smiles her billion yen smile at him. They'd pitied her, rehabilitated her, and set her loose on a world that had barely remembered her, on the assumption that - without her memories, her Note, or her God - she was no longer a threat to society.
"Me, too," B says, popping open the cap and swallowing a couple of pills, then portioning out a dose for her, "but good, old L still left me to rot in the US prison system. Mercy has only been recently introduced into the Wammy's regime, you see."
She thinks to herself that doing mystery drugs with seedy men in seedy locations is exactly how people like her end up puking their guts out on the cover of TMZ, but then she thinks of what is growing in her, of how she is corroding from the inside out and will be dead by her own hand dead within nine months, either way, and swallows down her pills with an accompanying glass of milk. She says, "Mercy is a joke."
As she lays herself down on the cold table, legs bare, eyes wide open, she sees the monster called Ryuk, who she has studied sketches of over and over again, drawings made in the fervor of grief and under the shadow of the gnawing countdown until they'd taken her memories from her. Even floating above her as the doctor speaks to her in soothing words, he is made of pencil led, of eraser smudges.
She can see B through the wall, can see him laughing and laughing in the waiting room, without making a sound. L and Light are there, too, both laughing at the same joke. She wonders if the joke is her.
She wonders what she'd taken.
They kill sixteen people in forty-two days. Eleven men, five women. Two under the age of eighteen. Rapists, murderers, abusive parents, corrupt officials, and street criminals. All the people that Kira would have fed heart attacks torn apart, stabbed and sliced and burnt to crisps, left as sacrifices, as vigils to the God not above, nor below; the God that is nowhere.
Over the body of a foster mother who had been consistently abusing her charges physically and sexually for years, Misa asks B, "If you're not doing it for Light, why are you doing it?"
He smiles a teasing smile as he pockets the woman's eyeballs. "Sheer nihilistic pleasure?"
Misa removes her gloves and wipes at her hands with strawberry scented sanitizer. She has conditioned herself to relish in the pale, surgical feel of it against her skin. "I don't believe you."
They exit out of the back entrance with practiced caution, Misa leaving the usual calling card - reading Kira Lives! in bright, campy font - tucked into the corner of the window, and B takes her hands and they walk lazily through the Tokyo streets like this, as any lovers would on such a crisp, clear night.
"For L," he whispers to her. It gives her as many chills to hear that name as it does Light's.
"That doesn't make any sense."
"Then I revert to my first answer." He spins her across the cold grey streets and she giggles and begins to sing a lullaby, a night song that she had taught herself, and he dances along to it as if he has known it his whole life.
When the police inevitably bring them in, B strips himself completely naked in the interrogation room, and Misa hugs Matsuda in the hallway as she's being processed. He hesitates for several long moments before he shakes her off and has her cuffed, and they both cry quiet, smiling tears as the charges against her are read.
"How could you?" he asks her, in a low voice, off the record, and she only shakes her head fondly and says, "Oh, Matsu, you know exactly how."
B, in his wraithlike way, escapes his imprisonment in the night without raising a single alarm, and comes to her cell to ask her, casually, holding out a pack of cigarettes through the bars, "You know, they're going to push for execution this time."
She shrugs, not sitting up from where she lies sprawled peaceful on her cot. "Justice has met me so many times, I think I'm excited to finally meet it."
B rolls his eyes. "How trite. Haven't you heard the stories about how your boyfriend went down? Howling and pathetic, yes, but not without a fucking fight. Don't just fall limply into your coffin, little dove. There's nothing on the other side, anyway, so we've got to milk this plane for all its worth." He's salivating at her like a stray dog for its dinner.
"I'm tired." She lets her eyes fall closed. She can see pencil drawings of Light grinning at the gates of heaven, grinning at the angels, all in white, who won't let him in.
B makes a noise of frustration - come out and play, come out and play with me, he sings, I am so lonely, everything of him sings to her - but then he quiets the whining, friendless child in him and casually points out, "On the other hand, they might have no choice but to stick you back in the nuthouse."
Misa's eyes snap open.
"No more white rooms?" She asks him, in the dim, still morning, as they huddle in his newest stolen car as it rolls, directionless, out of Tokyo.
"I'll paint them all black for you, darling," B tells her, and then sings along with the stereo as it blares music too old and too foreign for her to know.
She has no idea if she is dead or not.