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Paladin

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It was a relatively quiet afternoon at the Shinjuku subway system, the crowd was bustling but not packed with people and if any of them noticed the young man slouched against the wall and apparently talking to himself, none of them paid him any mind (except perhaps to walk faster).

"This place is crawling with humans. Are you gonna do it here?"

"Yeah, you're about to see the result of all the research and experiments I've been conducting. I've been testing the Death Note on known criminals around this part of town and I've learned a lot about the Death Note... For instance if I write down the time and conditions I can add a name afterwards and it will still happen."

"Ooh, even I didn't know that one."

Light continued his vigil, waiting for the arrival of a certain FBI agent.

He checked his watch…

And waited…

It's time…

And waited…

He should be here by now…

Ryuk watched as Light scanning the crowd again…

He seems worried. This is a first. Kukuku.

"…Shit."

"Something wrong?"

Light ignored Ryuk, and gracefully removed himself from his lurking place (no sense sticking around, something had gone wrong, he'd been stood up, a first in any case…) and began to stroll on home, composed as always… (that his bangs fell over his face concealing the obvious psychotic anger helped too…) It should have worked. His experiments had demonstrated that he could control the victims conditions of death to this degree. It should have worked! He had bet it all on this plan working. But it hadn't… that meant he was in deep shit.

Calm. Stay Calm.

"Light-o, Oi, Light-o!" Ryuk was bursting to know what was going on, but after receiving only a red-tinged glare for all his pestering efforts, decided it would be best not to push his only supplier of apples too hard when he was having one of his moods. At times, his human could be utterly terrifying… (to Ryuk it was adorably hilarious—like watching a kitten that's under the impression that it's King of the Jungle. Even so, Light would make a better Death God then the losers he usually hung out with.) Still he continued to hover too close as Light rigidly made his way home. Once there Light placed his shoes in the hall closet, ignored his little sister, trudged up the stairs, softly shut the door, clicked the lock shut… and proceeded to have a hissy fit.

"DAMMIT!"

"Oi, Light-o. What happened?"

Light had to calm himself down again before going over to his desk. He gently and carefully removed the notebook from its hiding place… and then furiously slammed it down on his desk.

"Woah, careful! You want to blow up your room?"

Silently, he flipped the notebook open to the appropriate page, showing how he would have controlled Raye, and used him to kill all the other agents in Japan. Ryuk was impressed, despite himself, at the level of detail in the instructions.

"Yes, that would have been funny to watch," Ryuk began, slightly mocking, slightly disappointed, "Too bad it didn't work."

"It. SHOULD. HAVE. WORKED!" Light ground out.

"But even if he didn't do what you wrote in the book, he would have died anyway, right? So what's the big deal?"

"What's the big deal, Ryuk? The big deal is that only Raye died! Out of all of the investigators… and it would be of a heart attack. It le's them zero in on the people who Raye was investigating, namely me. It's like I just announced to everyone that I AM KIRA!"

"Speaking of which, Light, I don't mean to tell you you're business, but you might want to keep it down, or your sister might hear. Kukukuku." It's not that Ryuk cared, not in the slightest… it's just that while Light's nervous breakdown had been funny at first, it was beginning to get grating, and besides the sooner Light got over this, the sooner they could be playing Mario Kart.

"ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!"

Let's just say that lessons in humility do not mix well with a God Complex and that Kira's judgments were much more severe that night...

***

"Raye Penber-san hasn't reported in for the last three days?" The shadowed figure asked into the webcam.

"No, sir. It would seem both he and his fiancée have gone missing."

Did Kira manage to find them? That means Kira took his bait… but if so, it was dreadfully disappointing that Kira would make such a rudimentary mistake. Plus, it didn't really match his profile, which deeply troubled L. It would have made more sense for Kira to try and find the identities of all the agents before making a move like this. Perhaps Kira wasn't as smart as he thought… (which was utterly unacceptable not to mention impossible because it meant his profile was completely off base. He knew… HE KNEW who it was. The only one it could be. He just didn't have the proof, and truth be told he was enjoying the game of unraveling the puzzle that was Light Yagami. He was the only one it really could be. The only one living in the Kanto region of Japan that so perfectly matched his carefully constructed profile, indeed one of the few people in the world outside Wammy's House smart enough to pull something like this off. The personnel file was balanced awkwardly in L's lap as he gazed at Light's picture. Only 17 years old the number one student in the country, popular, handsome, intelligent…. (L put the file aside) and Kira, the worst Mass Murderer in history, as well if the recent report was to be believed the one behind the deaths of one of his agents Raye Penber and Naomi Misora, a formerly valued shield. However, if it was the work of Kira as the FBI had presumed it was odd that they hadn't found their bodies yet. According to the report Watari had sent him there was no sign of a struggle at their house… Well whether this was the work of Kira or not, wasn't truly relevant to the current case. He had other issues to contend with such as the fact that the FBI had leaked Raye's disappearance and the circumstances surrounding it to the NPA and the local police. Meaning he had to contend with their mistrust. It was expected and honestly he was counting on it in order to make his next move. Plus this current situation did give him the excuse he needed to zero in on his subject. L felt it was high time that he introduced himself...

L absently watched the officers that chose to remain, reflected in the glass of the hotel's window. They were currently bickering over the busy work he had given them. They were all idiots compared to him and seemingly lacking in common sense as well, but really, L was expecting that by now… Chief Souichiro Yagami (his main suspect's father the main obstacle in bringing up his current theory) sat opposite Shuichi Aizawa and Hirozaku Ukita, Kanzo Mogi was off to one side working efficiently by himself, and Miyuki Sanami was busy doing both her work and Touta Matsuda's as Matsuda became distracted by something shiny.

"Everyone," L addressed the assembled taskforce "I want to focus our investigation on only the people that Raye Penber was tailing…"

Chapter Text

Drip.

Drip.

Drip.

That sound encompassed the whole of reality. Slowly the world began to return though the dark of unconsciousness had just been replaced by the absence of light. There was a leak somewhere, hitting the concrete floor (which was funny because there wasn’t any concrete in their hotel room…) the muscles in her neck screamed in agony from sleeping at an odd angle (which was again odd… because she didn’t remember going to sleep either. The last thing she remembered was serving Raye the tea. That’s right his bus had been high-jacked that morning (that couldn’t have been a coincidence, something like that happening when trailing a Kira suspect, and…) why couldn’t she move?

Oh, that’s because I’m strapped to the chair... This isn’t good.

Now that annoying drip was accompanied by an unfortunately familiar sound, one that brought with it some rather negative associations for Naomi Misora… the pop of a jam jar being opened.

“Wakey, wakey…” Scraping against the glass walls of the jar, followed by disgusting slurping noises… “…shake and bakey.”

Her captor spider-walked into view in that odd crouching lope of his, confirming her fears. In an odd non sequitor Naomi realized he didn’t look at all menacing, crawling around on the floor like a toddler, face covered in jam… Even with that horrible new burn scar that ran down the right half of his face (you don’t set yourself on fire without there being some repercussions) but Naomi knew better.

“R-Ryuuzaki!”

‘Ryuuzaki’ got off the floor and uncomfortably close, breathing the putrid smell of rotting jam into her face.

“Surprised?” He whispered. He was only an inch away now.

“No--they said you were dead!”

(Drip. Drip.)

‘Ryuuzaki’ grinned, it was a smile that held no happiness, and showed only teeth.

“Reports of my death were greatly exaggerated…” he turned and whispered in her ear “Would you like to know?”

***

Earlier

“…the subject is reported to have just collapsed in his cell?” asked the young blonde coroner’s assistant.

“Yeah, another one, huh…”

Oh, how ironic. I know that voice. It was the prison guard that found me.

“The Preliminary Cause of Death is believed to be cardiac arrest but we’ll only but we’ll only know for sure upon autopsy…” said the coroner.

“So let’s get started shall we?”

That girl is waaay too excited about cutting things up, and people call ME crazy.

“Right, I’ll leave you guys to it,” the metal door slammed shut with an air of finality as the prison guard left the morgue.

As the coroner began the cut, blood began to flow out of the “corpse…”

“Say,” asked his assistant “what kind of name is Beyond Birthday, anyway?”

…which meant that said "corpse" was actually still alive…

“What the— get an EMT in here now!”

The “body’s” eyes snapped open, revealing gleaming red eyes. In a lightning flash he was up in a spider-like crouch on the edge of the autopsy table and the coroner was looking up at him from the floor.

“Doctor Brian Bolivar, huh? Heh, how interesting, it must have been fate for us to meet like this… There’s something I think you should know…” he leaned in and in a kindly voice he whispered “your number’s up.”

It was just then that Doctor Bolivar noticed that the scalpel was no longer in his hand… it was now in Beyond’s….

"Aw yes! Blood. GLORIOUS BLOOD!" As Beyond made a swift cut across the jugular, it splattered Beyond’s nude form, the surrounding walls, and across the face of Bolivar’s assistant....

“…Ashley?” Beyond grinned as the assistant trembled, “Ashley Anderson. An A. I knew an A Once. Do you want to know about the last person I knew with that name? Probably not, it’s a long story and a very sad one. There’s no happy ending here, I’m afraid. Not for you, or for her, or for me…” a frightened moan escaped the girl’s throat as Beyond played with her hair. “Shh, shh, shhh. No, Ashley. You do not die today. The numbers say you don’t… The numbers. I see them. They’re everywhere, above everyone’s head BLEEDING.”

Beyond’s eyes went vacant and he seemed to be staring into space, staring up above Ashley’s head. They are red, the numbers. Like blood. Life trickling away. And I can’t… can’t’ stop it… Make it stop. PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!

It was then that Ashley regained her senses. She kneed him in the crotch and made a mad dash for the door. When she was within reach of it, she was suddenly pushed forward into it hard, from behind, her skull ringing against the steel. Ashley screamed in frustrated terror.

“Quit your bawling. I told, you, you don’t die today, didn’t I. And here you take advantage of my generosity. Now this is a bit of a dilemma. I can’t let you go telling, now can I? I want to throw a surprise party for my Special Someone and I can’t have you ruining it. Hmmm… I know!” He declared cheerily...

***

“…and then I sawed out her tongue. It took awhile. Not sure why. Then her screaming got annoying so I ripped out her voice box. She’s still alive, by the way, just as promised. Unlike some people I know, I keep my promises. The guard outside didn’t stand a chance either, but you’re smart. You probably figured that out already too, huh?”

Naomi just stared, open-mouthed and wide-eyed as Beyond continued to relate the exploits of his most recent killings as if talking about the weather. An awkward silence followed, save for the ever-present background drip.

“Oh, but you probably want to know how I got out of my cell and into the morgue in the first place, right? It’s actually a funny story, you see... They honored my request for my last meal… Fugu as catered by Samurai Sushi a group of inexperienced Western sushi chefs. As you know Fugu also known as blowfish is at best mildly poisonous containing tetrodotoxin and if inadequately prepared can kill the person consuming it or in the right dosages can render the one who consumes it in a state that resembles death. (It was a little rocky there, I wasn’t sure if I had the right dosage, luckily I AM a genius.) It’s also the main ingredient in a voodoo ritual used to create “zombies.” After consuming the tetrodotoxin, it was a simple matter of clutching my chest and screaming ‘DAMN YOU KIRA!’ at the right moment, then I collapsed and that was the end of it. They shipped my “body” to the morgue where I woke up after recovering from the poisoning. Besides my playtime with the coroners and the guards I managed to cleanly make my escape. I doubt that news of my escape has spread yet. The authorities don’t like to look like they’re losing control. Though I imagine they tried to contact L. Too bad, knowing him he’s throwing his all into the Kira case. Heh heh heh.”

“Wh-what exactly did you mean by a surprise party?” Naomi forced her voice to remain level.

“Hmm? Yes. I suppose you’re right. Enough about me,” Beyond began, leaning back against Naomi’s chair, absently twirling the knife in one hand. “Let’s talk about you. Naomi Misora. You know, this isn’t really about you. It’s about L. (It’s always about L, isn’t it?) Yes, it’s about L. And Kira. And You. And Me. This WAS just about L and me. But then you had to go and interfere, the way you did. Don’t think I’ve forgotten… WHAT. YOU. DID. TO. ME!” (With each word Beyond broke a finger on her left hand).

“AAAAAAAAAAGHH!!!! You… you mean stopping you from burning to death?” Naomi spat, “Is that what this is all about? Be my guest and do it again, I won’t try and stop you this time.” Oh, great job, Naomi. Antagonize the knife-wielding madman.

Beyond slumped next to her chair again. “You. You. You. You. You have no idea. What it’s like. I know. I’ve been trained to know. It’s L. (L. L. L) And Wammy. It’s their fault. ALL THEIR FAULT. They trained me to know. To see the patterns. And I see it… see it. If only I could be L, not Backup, but L. I wouldn’t have to see it. He doesn’t see it. He doesn’t. I do. I see it.” He desperately grabbed at Naomi’s hand. “I see it all. See it all dying. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO END THAT DAY!” He screamed in her face and then stormed away, could only hear the drip and the heaviness of Beyond’s breathing.

“Anyway,” Beyond began calmly again as if he had never had an outburst, “you always were so interested in the B.B. case… Now you get to see first-hand! Kyahahahaha! Isn’t it exciting! Oh no… not you. Don’t worry… it will be your turn later. Right now I’m working on my current subject—I believe you know him quite well…”

Naomi winced as Beyond pulled something from his pocket. At first she was relieved as it was just a remote. Then… *BLIP*, and a spotlight illuminated the dark room.

It took a moment for Naomi to place the context. The figure was vaguely human but with so many pieces missing, it took her far too long to recognize his identity... “Oh my god! RAYE!

That dripping! This whole time! It was Raye, slowly bleeding to death.

“I’m sorry he can’t talk to you at the moment (seeing as I’ve already removed those necessary pieces.) He can still see and hear you though. As you can see, I’ve already been working on him a bit, but I saved the best for last. I wouldn’t want to deprive you of seeing each other, now would I? After all, I’m not completely heartless.”

Smiling kindly, Beyond brought the scalpel down to saw what was left of Raye away, while humming a merry tune (Naomi soon recognized it was “Santa Claus is coming to Town”) Naomi could see that Raye’s features were contorted into a silent scream. Just as Raye's eyes betrayed the most anguish he began making odd gurgling noises and began to spasm in the chair.

“That’s enough of that!” Beyond growled and struck Raye across the face.

In a last moment of lucidity, Raye looked right at her, silently called her name and fell back limply in the chair, head lolling to one side. It was then that Beyond observed the red halo of Raye’s name and lifespan had been snuffed out.

“No. No. NO! NOT FAIR! I WASN’T FINISHED!” Beyond roared, shaking the lifeless corpse.

While holding his tantrum Beyond plunged his fingers in and with a wet pop, removed Raye’s eyes from their sockets, no longer caring if they were damaged or souvenir worthy and threw them at Naomi.

Was that… a heart attack?! Did I misjudge the dosage? No. The numbers! He wasn’t supposed to die yet. He died before the numbers ran out… and it was a heart attack. There can be no doubt about it. It must have been Kira… now THAT’S interesting. I can find Kira first, before L!

Beyond’s face split wide into a mad, mad grin. “Kya ha. Ha. HA. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!”

This was his chance, finally! He would no longer be Backup. He would be L! But he would have to move fast if he wanted to find Kira first.

“Raye! RAYE!” Naomi screamed. Beyond glanced over to see that she was straining against the bonds way too much for his liking… and so she injected her with another dose of sedative.

“We’ll play later,” he said while slashing small cuts across her face “I promise you.” The last thing Naomi saw before losing consciousness was Beyond licking at the weeping wounds.

Chapter Text

“PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF… LIGHT GIVE ME AN APPLE!!!”

Damn L. If not for him, I wouldn’t have to put up with—

“AAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPPPPPPPPLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Light ignored Ryuk and flopped down on his bed, casually glaring at where he knew one the cameras to be as he began to study his textbook on Legal Precedents. Eventually Ryuk wore himself out and went to mope in a corner and Light could get some actual studying done (Not that he really needed to, he already knew this stuff backwards).

Heh? Enjoying the show L? This is torture for me, and I’m USED to it... It’s funny to imagine some loser sitting out there watching this. Yes. Light Yagami’s Study Hour. Damn good television.

“Light, dinner’s ready!” Sayu called up the stairs.

“Ooh, Is it apples?”

What do you think, Ryuk.

“Stupid L. Stupid cameras. Stupid Light not talking to me... Yeah, yeah… I’ll just stay here and look for more cameras. I’ve already found six.”

Wouldn’t six really be enough?

Downstairs, Sayu was, as per usual, squeeing over teen idol Hideki Ryuga.

“Geez, Sayu, watch the news for once.”

“Not when Hideki’s on, no way! He’s gorgeous! Why don’t you like anybody?”

Thank you, Sayu. If the news was on right now, my whole plan would go down the drain.

As they ate dinner, more amusement was forthcoming for Light upon seeing L’s obviously fake announcement. He was still inwardly laughing at L’s stupid trick as he excused himself from the table.

“What, you’re eating a bag of chips right after dinner? You pig.”

Ouch. Sayu.

“It’s a late-night snack for studying,” Light sighed exasperated. Yet, despite the teasing, and the fact that some vigilante without any recourse to the law that casually sacrificed human lives and let others die in his place (hypocrisy? I have no idea what you’re talking about…) had installed 64 cameras in his room and that these were the worst tasting chips on the planet, Light was in a really good mood. Why shouldn’t he be, after all he was eliminating the scum of the earth right under the nose of the “World’s Greatest Detective.” Yes. Every chip was eaten for the sake of Justice (and Justice tasted like barbequed lard crisps).

Note to Self: After establishing the New World, first decree (well maybe not the first but definitely A decree) on this day, January 8th it will now and forever be World Potato Chip Day! Yes.

Light leaned back in his chair, perfectly relaxed as he got into his favorite fantasy of Already-Lording-Over-the-Whole-Planet. In his daydream he got the cool flowing robes, maybe a nice shiny crown or something and he was overlooking and addressing a crowd of millions of cheering people. "KIRA-SAMA! KIRA-SAMA! KIA-SAMA!"

Old guys with suits would come before him to offer their allegiance and gratitude for all that he’s done for the world.

“Hey, world leaders, how you doing? Guess what? You all work for me now. What’ sup Australia? Why thank you for ceding your territories to me, very generous of you.”

“War and crime no longer exist,” one of the gentlemen in the suits began “and the world is at peace! We from the U.N. and assembled nations would like to thank you Kira, for doing the job which we so obviously couldn’t because we suck and you rock. Thank you Kira! The world is a safer place because of you!”

Some adoring fans would then rush the stage crying “Kira-sama” and “I am not worthy.” And “My son wants to grow up to be just like you!” and “Kira, have my babies!” (Ewww... maybe not that one). Then an assassin somehow makes it through, but that’s okay because Light grabs the gun right out of his hand and then takes him down like a ninja. The cheering crowd gets even louder and Light begins his acceptance speech for his position as God-Emperor of Planet Earth.

“Yes, I would like to thank my family for all their moral support, the Shinigami Ryuk for making this all possible, and L for providing hours of free entertainment…” wait. Woah! Did I really just think that? That I’m GRATEFUL to L for getting in the way of my goals and trying to put me to death? Hmm… one of these days perhaps a visit to a completely loyal and trustworthy psychologist is in order… after I become God of course.

As Light came out of his daydream he discovered he had developed a not so little problem, and with the cameras watching him, too. How embarrassing. No wait, this was perfect. It would help authenticate his cover. Light uncovered one of his girlie mags from their hiding place and headed for the bathroom.

Yes, enjoy the show, L.

***
L smelled rather than saw Mr. Yagami return from his smoke break, as he was glued to the TV screens.

“Ryuuzaki?”

“Hmm?”

“Is it really necessary to stare at the screen so closely…”

“I don’t want to miss anything.”

“… when my son is showering?”

In a briefly panicked moment L worried that Mr. Yagami was going to accuse him of something… “As I told you, out of all our current suspects, Light is the most suspicious. In fact, with your permission, I would like to have Mogi start following him. He sure does go out a lot a night.

“He’s very popular,” the father of his suspect explained.

L muttered something that sounded suspiciously like “I can see why.”

Mr. Yagami gaped at L, and for a moment, “Ryuuzaki…” The tone was dangerous enough that L actually looked away from the screen. For a moment it seemed Souichiro wanted to have words with him… “…You’ll ruin your eyesight, doing that.” …but the moment passed.

L managed to NOT audibly sigh in relief and just glance blandly at Mr. Yagami.

“Of course, Yagami-san. Thank you for your concern.”

***

Meanwhile in that gray and desolate world known as the Shinigami Realm one of the Death Gods has awakened from his eons-long nap. Hoisting his bone-scythe over his shoulder with his good hand, Zellogi trudged along looking for the rest of the guys… well first he saw Gelus and Rem staring solemnly into one of the viewing pools.

Zellogi sighed. Those two… so boring.

What kind of Shinigami cares about humans? (A short-lived one, that’s for sure.) But then he noticed it wasn’t just Gelus and Rem. Deridovely, Calikarcha and several other shinigami he didn’t know were sitting around a viewing pool too, occasionally breaking into fits of laughter.

Deridovely was lounging there, in front of the pool, a bowl full of mini-skulls in his lap. At regular intervals he would shovel claw-fuls of skulls past his fat lips.

“Oh man,” he mumbled around his munching “Ryuk has really outdone himself this time!”

Ryuk? Zellogi hadn’t seen Ryuk yet, and he was usually doing something to get in trouble--Could it be… Is he down there?

Any attempt at talking to Deridovely and the others was greeted with “Shushes.” Zellogi huffed and continued on until he found Gukku with the ladies (lucky bastard) the refined Daril Ghiroza and that firecracker Kinddara Guivelostain, currently engaged in a riveting game of cards. Tired of being ignored, Zellogi let out a loud and obnoxious yawn to announce his presence.

“It seems a lot of Shinigami are observing the human world lately, what’s with that, anyway?”

“Ryuk is being kept by a human!” Snickered Gukku.

So it's true… “Huh? What’s he thinking, seriously?”

“He’s a disgrace to the pride of the Shinigami,” sniffed Kinddara. Zellogi couldn’t help but ogle a bit at her pretty stitches and exposed under-flesh but he knew better than to touch… The last time he tried, he lost his left hand.

“No I mean, who would want to keep him as a pet, aren’t pets supposed to be cute?” they all burst a gut laughing at that.

Indeed, Gukku laughed so hard he nearly impaled himself in the back with his swept-back horns, which caused the others to laugh even more. “Hahaha, when you’re right you’re right” Gukku said.

“What’s the story on this human anyway? Is it a male or a female?”

“Who knows,” replied Daril, her plate-mail jingling as she threw a card onto the ground. “But you know? If Ryuk knows what’s good for him; he’ll stay a human’s pet.”

“Huh?” Now this was interesting. Daril was a high ranking Shinigami and occasionally knew things, and let everyone else know she knew things. She’s the best supplier of gossip in the Shinigami world. Zellogi was all ears.

“Well I’m just saying,” Daril began, absently running a claw through her long white hair “that if I were him, I’d stay down there... Haven’t you heard? The King found out about that one time…”

“…which one?”

“The last time he was down there. I heard he broke Rule 36.”

“…I didn’t think that was possible.”

“its not supposed to be possible. At any rate the King is well royally pissed, but he can’t do anything to Ryuk until his human kicks it, but as soon as he does…”

“Woah… those humans, they don’t live too long, do they? Especially when they become an Owner. Sucks to be him.”

“Indeed.”

That Zellogi had swiped Kindarra’s Death Note while they were talking went unnoticed by all, as they were all so engrossed in their game. (Violent as she was, Kindarra was not too bright. Unlike the others, it would probably be centuries before she noticed it was even missing, he could have it back to her before then, and she would be none the wiser.)

“I guess I’d better go down and take a closer look.”

“Whoo boy,” Daril laughed happy to have something else to gossip about.

As Zellogi approached the viewing pools he considered the pros and cons of getting involved.

Pro – as dull as it would be to follow a human around until they died it was probably more exciting than sitting around gambling or counting dust motes.

Con- he didn’t want to end up some human’s pet like Ryuk.

Pro- Sitting back and letting some human do all the work was smart, really.

Con- Doing this would obviously not score him any points with Kinddara who found this kind of behavior beneath a proper Death God.

Pro- But he wasn’t about to become a laughing stock like Ryuk. When he went down there, the human would show proper respect to a Death God, thank you very much.

Pros- it looked like it could be fun and he was bored out of his skull.

Pro- it would be funny to see the look on Ryuk’s face when he learned he was completely and utterly screwed.

Con- On the other hand, it meant actually doing something, and that patch of dust looked mighty tempting to sleep on.

Zellogi managed to make it back to the viewing pool where Deirdovely and the others were watching the soap opera Ryuk had instigated. Yep, it was official; Ryuk was some human’s pet, eating apples right out of his hand. Heh. Apples. Of course that would be why he decided to stick around with some boring human… Zellogi watched a little longer and made a discovery that tipped the scales into deciding to go through with it…
Ryuk was lounging. On a BED. A soft, soft bed… with pillows.. And BLANKETS!!!

Yes, Zellogi could definitely see the appeal now. Room, board, and entertainment.

Zellogi liked soft things and there aren’t many soft things in the Shinigami world. Mostly bones and chains, spikes, debris… dust is about as soft as it comes.

Ultimately pride wasn’t too much to ask when it came to getting what you want.

It was decided then. Zellogi would to play too. He unfurled his skeletal wings and began his decent into the human world…

***

“Does this mean that it’s begun?” asked one who had been observing the scene, a Shinigami who was composed mostly of eyes.

“NO,” came a voice from the Nothing (that if heard by human ears would likely make that human’s brain explode) “NOT YET. BUT SOON. VERY SOON.”

***

Come on! Get moving you idiot! You do NOT stop. If you stop, he gets L and he wins. If he wins, then what he did to Raye... What he did to me… God!

She had to hurry. She had to warn L that Beyond had returned. It’s probably too late. Beyond must have found… There was no other reason for him to rush out like that. Or perhaps he had just underestimated her again. Naomi had to break her own wrist getting out of those restraints, but it was better than (more of) the alternative...

The police station was in sight. Come on! She screamed at herself in frustration as her vision began to swim around the edges. Forget the fact that EVERYTHING hurts, and that your stitches have opened up again, and that you’re probably dying right now. Use that fence for support and keep moving. First L, then hospital. She staggered along. Just a little further…

She turned the corner and crashed right into a handsome young man returning from the station. That was it, the End. She could go no further. She saw black spots and the world was fading fast. The only thing keeping her up was that the stranger had caught her before she could fall.

From a million miles away she could hear him asking “Hey… are you okay?” (Do I look okay, you idiot?) Followed by “…Oh my God!” She was probably bleeding onto his nice white overcoat. It would be hell to get those stains out. For a moment she was sure he would leave her there, too concerned with his own busy schedule. Sorry for bleeding on you, Mr. Stranger, I’ll just be on my way.

Oh, he’s already calling somebody on his cell phone. Maybe he’s not such an idiot after all.

“Help me…” her voice came out as barely a whisper. Pathetic. She grumbled to herself as she lost consciousness.

Chapter Text

As he waited for the ambulance tending to the wounds of an unconscious stranger, Light reflected that this was overall, shaping up to be the strangest day of his life. Yes, even beating out the day he found a killer notebook in the school yard, or the first time Ryuk appeared in his bedroom, or even that one time with Sayu and the fish. Now, from the look of things, it was just getting weirder. First there was the weird boy…man… man-child (really weird, like someone-you're-likely-to-come-across-when-riding-the-subway-and-quickly-move-to-the-other-end-of-the-car weird) sometimes calling himself Hideki Ryuga sometimes just "Ryuuzaki" and claiming to be the Great Detective L that just showed up at school and started following him around. Annoying if true (If not, then he had likely just attracted the attention of yet another stalker, joy) because then it's another obvious trap… (And what did Hideki Ryuga ever do to "Ryuuzaki"? Besides the fact that it was an obvious trap, Light knew he would never dare to even try to write that name… his sister would be devastated.)

They had chatted in the cafeteria where Light wondered if it was possible to get diabetes from just watching someone else eat as Ryuga / "Ryuuzaki"/ allegedly-L continued to talk around whatever sugared-strawberry-something he had shoved into his mouth.

Light had made a couple discoveries during that meeting. One, the man was childish, very irritating, and convinced that he was Kira. Two …that that was the longest and most intelligent conversation he had ever had with anyone in his life.

It all left Light very confused.

It was not a feeling that he was used to. It made him angry. Therefore, he jumped at the chance to run errands for his mother and sister. A walk would help him to cool off. He certainly didn't count on this happening.

Yes, quite an odd day.

… But even if it was the real L, Light had an ace in the hole and was confident that he could win...

***
That Morning …

"Oi, Light-o."

Light turned, in the middle of buttoning his shirt. "Yes Ryuk, I know. We're going on an apple-run today."

"Yeah, sure, whatever, there's something I need to talk to you about."

Wait Ryuk is indifferent about apples? Something is definitely up. The Shinigami had his full attention.

"How would you like to become more powerful?"

Light sighed, exasperated. "You aren't pushing the Eye Deal at me again, are you Ryuk? Don't waste my time. I'm NEVER going to take that deal."

Thank you, thank you, thank you… ahem. I mean yes, you'd best not, Light or I will make your remaining years a living hell, I assure you… "No, it's not that deal, it's another one. A better one… Hey! Don't give me that look, there's a lot of rules and stuff to remember! Not everyone can be as smart as you kid."

Flattery gets you everywhere if you happen to be talking to one Light Yagami. Light plopped down into his office chair and with an imperious wave of his hand signaled that yes, Ryuk may continue talking. Ryuk did. Light's eyes narrowed. "What's the catch?"

"Nothing. It's free of charge. Honest. C'mon, Light. Isn't it everything you ever wanted?"

"Yes," this made it suspicious. Why would Ryuk who had made it clear he wasn't on his side offer him a deal like this with seemingly no strings attached? So Light continued to ask about it, trying to find any loophole that could be abused. Anything he might have been overlooked, or poke holes in Ryuk's offer until…

"Just take the damn deal!"

"…and why are you pushing this deal?"

"…I'm not."

"Are you concerned about me?" the boy glanced back faux flirtatiously over his shoulder as he crossed the room to get his coat. "I'm touched Ryuk, really."

Ryuk growled. "Look, Light. You know I don't particularly care. I'm not on your side or L's side..."

"…but it's apparent you need me for something…" Light supplied with a smug you're-going-to-owe-me-look.

"…but if say, you died right now," Ryuk looked pointedly above Light's head... "We'd never get to finish our game of Mario Kart." (Yes, that sounded like a valid excuse.)

"That's right, you see…" Am I going to die soon otherwise… is that why?

Ryun's grin widened. He knew he got him. Light, after all, was only human and ultimately didn't want to die. Especially considering what he'd told Light about Afterwards or lack thereof…

"Light, take the deal."

Light breathed out slowly… "Okay. How do we do this?"

Ryuk cackled gleefully when Light bought him extra apples afterwards. After that and the promise of yet more apples the Shinigami wasn’t about to enlighten him that he didn’t actually give him any power. No, all he had done was awaken what was already there.

***

The Night Before

Ryuk was in a good mood because the cameras were gone so he could have apples in the house and play video games with Light again. Ryuk had won of course. It was fun even if Light was a sore loser.

Ryuk lazily floated in the corner, grinning down as he watched his human sleeping peacefully. Heh, even when he's sleeping... Light's so interesting. Most humans would have nightmares after ending so many lives. Heh. But not Light, at least not anymore...

"HEY, RYUUKUU!" shouted a certain rotting Shinigami in a feather headdress as he came diving in through the ceiling.

For a second, Ryuk was so startled he forgot how to defy gravity. The resulting thud elicited an elegant response from the sleeping Kira.

"Ngh. Whaz tha' Ryuk?"

"Uh, nothing," Ryuk said, quickly. "Nightmare. Go back to sleep."

"M'kay."

Irritated, Ryuk gestured and then phased through the wall. Zellogi followed.

Clouds covered up the moon as Ryuk flew up to perch on the roof of the Yagami house. "So, Zellogi… What are you doing here?"

Zellogi plopped down next to him, a pair of invisible grotesques. "Do I have to have a reason? Maybe I just missed seeing your ugly face."

"Hyuk. You're one to talk. No, seriously why are you here?"

"Why should YOU be the only one who gets to have fun in the human world? You didn't even bother to invite me, I'm hurt."

"Hey, YOU were busy napping! …Like you've been for the last two thousand years!"

"There's another thing though, I figured I should tell you… You screwed up, Ryuk. You screwed up big time."

"Huh?"

"The King found out about that one time."

"Which one?"

"If you have to ask…"

"No, seriously," Ryuk grabbed Zellogi's furry sleeves, sounding panicked "which one?"

"Rule 36."

"Oh FUCK!"

"Exactly."

Ryuk visibly slumped. "It's a good thing you chose to pull this little prank now. The King can't touch you while you're down here attached to a human. You're safe as long as he's alive and doesn't forfeit ownership."

Ryuk brightened a bit. "Ah, have you seen him? He thinks he's on a holy crusade. He'd never do that."

"Then you're safe until he kicks it, then you go straight to Level 1 agony."

There were few things in either world that could make a Shinigami tremble in fear… this was one of them.

"Tell you what, since you're my pal and I don't want to see your sorry ass being sent off to Eternal Torment I'll give you a hint about how you can save yourself. (You didn't hear it from me though.) Of course you're going to owe me big for this..."

Yes, either way this was going to cost him, that much was a given. "Name it," Ryuk sighed, defeated. "What do you want?"

"I want a blanket. Wool, preferably fuzzy. A blue one."

Right, this is ZELLOGI, we're talking about… He might be smarter than me, but he's still got a one-track mind. That's easy enough… I can just whine until Light-o gets me one.

"All right, hyuk hyuk. You have yourself a deal."

"Alright, here's something I noticed that could save your life now, so listen up. You're lucky it's THIS human."

"Yeah, I know he's fun."

"No… you're REALLY LUCKY. Out of all the billions of humans out there in the world, you land on him. Anyone else and this wouldn't work and there really would be no hope and no saving you."

"Oh."

"It's ironic really, you're gonna be saved by your own screw up."

"Huh, how's that?

"Well, first of all you know that you have first rights to his name and no other Shinigami is allowed to touch him… But this is the King you've pissed off. He doesn't have to follow the rules. Normally, the King would have just killed your human and dragged your sorry ass back home to be punished. But because it's this human, you're safe."

"But why? I don't understand!"

"Look, do I have to spell it out for you?"

"Quit screwing around and tell me already!"

"I can't just tell you, I'm treading the line as it is! Figure it out! It's staring you right in the face! Didn't you notice his surname?"

"Yeah Kukuku, I did (though that only really works in English)."

"What?" Zellogi sighed trying a different approach. "Think Ryuk. Remember the last time you were here. A few thousand years ago."

"…yeah. Hey, wait a sec, Zellogi… you mean you watched all that?"

"Hey, it's not like there was anything better to do. Anyway, do you remember what they called you?"

"Yeah, the Night God—OH!" Ryuk slipped and fell off the roof. He barely managed to catch himself before hitting the ground a second time that night. "Oh… Oooh. Well… Fuck. This is awkward… Wait you mean he's… Light's my…"

Zellogi was massaging his forehead with his claws. "Yes… Lucky he didn't get YOUR brains or your looks for that matter, though from watching the two of you I'd say he may have inherited your winning personality."

***

Zellogi looked on at the scene before him. He'd waited all day to find some human that he could use to continue hanging out with Ryuk. (He'd considered that messy-haired, tired-looking guy but Ryuk said it was a bad idea.)

"Yeah, she'll do," and unceremoniously chucked his notebook at Naomi Misora. Light watched open mouthed as a Death Note came flying right at them, hitting Naomi first, rebounding off the pavement and smacked Light right in the face.

Light looked up to see two Shinigami roaring with laughter "Ryuk..." Light began rubbing at the bridge of his nose "if you knew about this, I will kill you… Yeah, I know and I don't care, I will find a way."

Chapter Text

I could just kill her, and gain ownership. Yeah, that's the safest option. Step one find out her name.

"Eh, whatcha doin'?" Light ignored his invisible audience and after much searching, found her wallet in a hidden pocket within the lining of her jacket. A Japanese driver's license betrayed her name—Naomi Misora.

Light began to reach for his own wallet (or more specifically the Death Note scrap he kept hidden inside of it) when the complaining began…

"Hyuk hyuk, yep, he's getting out his Death Note, told you so. You owe me two death-heads."

"What you're just going to kill her?" Ah that was that newcomer Shinigami, the very reason this poor woman had to die. Seeing him, it made Ryuk look almost pleasing to the eye… because while Ryuk might resemble a beast or a monstrous clown at least he didn't look like a rotting corpse. He also seemed to have no problem watching Light's every move despite having sunken pits where his eyes should have been. He was quite unnerving…

"BUT THAT'S SO BOOORING!"

…not to mention annoying.

Light glowered at Ryuk and Zellogi. "What choice do I have?"

"C'mon, Light remember that deal we made? You don't have to play it so safe anymore. Besides if you gain ownership, you'll have to put up with Zellogi's ugly face, not to mention his fur fetish. Let someone else carry that burden. Hyuk hyuk."

"Hmm…" Light considered having Zellogi haunt him for the rest of his life and shivered. Still… "It's not worth the risk."

"All you have to do is trick her into giving up ownership."

Light continued to rummage around for his wallet.

"CHIKEN! BUCK BUCK BUWAK!"

"Yeah that must be it. You think she's smarter than you or something?"

"Hardly. Smart people don't walk into danger like that."

"I bet you apples, double or nothing that she'd best you in a battle of wits. Or are you too scared?"

That did it. Pride—Light's fatal flaw.

Light glowered at the Shinigami and then rubbed his chin in thought. "Hmm… suppose I could trick her into giving up ownership" he said as if he had come up with the idea himself. "I already called the ambulance. If she dies now… that could come back to implicate me later... as for your bet… You're on."

…And of course, killing her later is always an option...

"Yeah, that's the spirit!" Zellogi laughed.

"So until then, Zellogi was it? You need to stay out of sight."

"Technically, she's the owner right now. So I have to haunt her."

"Is there a rule that states you have to haunt her NOW?"

"Well, I have to appear before her sometime within the next 39 days…"

"Then you have time, you WILL stay out of sight," Light ordered the Death God, "and when we get to the hospital, you WILL wait outside."

"Heh. You're not the boss of me, human. Who the hell do you think you are? Treating Shinigami like this? Why the hell do you put up with this Ryuk?"

Light continued to stroke his chin in thought and then added "Do this for me and I'll get you…"

"A blue fuzzy wool blanket," Ryuk supplied helpfully.

"…Yeah, that."

"Hey, you were supposed to get me that Ryuk!"

"I just did. You're welcome. Now shoo for a bit, and remember to wait outside," Ryuk replied sweetly.

Zellogi launched himself off the ground, as he began to fly away he called back over his shoulder, "Hey Ryuk, you know what? This human… he's a bad influence on you."

"Hyuk, hyuk, hyuk."

"I'M SERIOUS!"

***

"She's bleeding, pretty bad, I have to keep pressure here or she's going to bleed out..."

The ambulance was finally here, of course the EMTs tried to make him leave… "I'm sorry kid, only relatives are allowed…"

I can't lose track of her… and "Kid?" Light thought indignantly, than realized by the shocked looks he had indeed voiced his irritation, (using the same tone of voice he used to order Shinigami around) "I'm her…" Light noticed Misora's mutilated fingers and the diamond engagement ring. "...fiancé."

Yeah, Light, real smooth.

"My apologies, sir. Of course you can ride along."

While outwardly he continued to act concerned, in his mind, Light was smirking with glee. Yeah, I'm good.

***

Meanwhile, across the street Mogi had been observing these events (or rather saw Chief Yagami's son the good Samaritan stopping to help a victim of assault) and was trying to get in contact with Headquarters to give an update. On the fifth try the Chief finally picked up.

"What happened?"

"Mogi, you'd better get down here."

"But-but Chief! What about, I mean L… he said... How are we going to clear your family?"

"That can wait."

***

As Light watched the EMTs work to save Naomi Misora's life. Light stunned at the sheer amount of abuse this woman had gone through. Misora had been tortured. Along with the long deep weeping wound on her back there were a series of smaller ones along her face and arms. She had been severely beaten, her ring finger had been sawed off and every other finger was broken on her left hand. Also her right wrist was fractured. Ligature marks and no defensive wounds—she had been unable to fight back.

Light needed to know who did this. He would not permit such evil to exist in His World.

It was a shame about her hands really. It would have added a nice dramatic touch to hold her hand like the concerned husband-to-be-roll he now found himself playing. So he just hung back nervously and let the EMTs work.

Though, something felt out of place. Light soon realized what it was…

"Hey!" Light rose from his cramped seat and grabbed the nurse by the wrist. "What are you doing, are you trying to kill her?"

The nurse glowered "Sir, get out of the way or get out of the car."

"Look at her blood pressure if you gave her that now, you'd send her into cardiac arrest!"

"Hey, he's right! What were you thinking Bukimi-san?"

The nurse hung her head in mock contrition "Sorry, sir. It won't happen again."

"It better not! That's the third time… keep this up and you can count yourself out of a job!"

Oh that inspires confidence… and the third time! There's no way this was just incompetence.

The nurse was watching him now through striking golden eyes, predator's eyes (eyes that Light sometimes saw when he looked in the mirror).

No, this was a malicious act. Damn is everyone else so blind? She's an "angel of death" you don't even have to be a genius like me to figure that one out!

Light took care to check her badge (surname: Bukimi, first name: Rin) and remember her face… that name was going in the Death Note tonight. She would die of an accident in 23 days (no matter what Ryuk said, he wasn't going to throw caution to the wind just to alleviate his boredom) and she would cause no more harm to her patients in that time.

Speaking of the Death Note… how was he going to get Misora to give up ownership without her ever realizing she had become an Owner in the first place? And he had to do it before she could discover Zellogi. He had to tread carefully. Even if he was successful in getting her to give up ownership there was no guarantee that the resulting memory wipe would erase everything that could possibly implicate him as Kira, as far as he could tell from questioning Ryuk it only erased knowledge of the notebook and of Shinigami.

Let's start with the basics. Maybe I can think of something I can use… So what do you know about her? … Next to nothing. What can you infer… beside the obvious. She's either married or getting married soon (or at the very least has fine taste in jewelry.) She has enemies, she's just been through a horribly traumatic experience, she's athletic, she can take pain well (she may have had training in some form of martial arts… if so, it's fair to infer that her attacker probably knew her, or at the very least knew her habits enough to turn it to his advantage.) Also, she walked here from wherever she was being kept… She's strong. Her wardrobe choice, plus the wear and tear on the clothes suggests that she's a biker. She was headed for the police station instead of the hospital… so she's either stupid or doesn't value her own life. That suggests she's impulsive, desperate, or exceedingly loyal, or all of the above. However, her hiding her wallet like that… it suggests caution, and intelligence.

She's… impressive.

***

A subdued couple entered the hospital lobby "That must be him," murmured the raven-haired woman. "He looks younger than I suspected." They sat opposite the worried young man. It was true, Light was worried (at the very least about the fact that Naomi was unknowingly in possession of the source of his power and thus could ruin him in so many ways and so quickly it wasn't even funny.) But his apparent concern did score him a few points.

The big man grunted and Light glanced up from his brooding. The man pro-offered his beefy hand, western-style. Light shook it and noted that he had a very strong grip.

"You must be Mr. Raye Penber."

Light carefully schooled his features to avoid showing any of the rising panic he was feeling…
What? What did they know about Raye Penber? For that matter, why did they think I'M Raye Penber?

"Isamu Misora and this is my wife, Katsumi. Now what's this I hear about you wanting to marry my daughter?"

Oh CRAP! Looking over this bear of a man, the "God of the New World" was in a tight spot indeed…

But then the pieces all fell into place. No wait. I can use this. Ha! This is my lucky day!

Light didn't miss a beat. "I am very pleased to finally meet you."

"Wow, you're Japanese is flawless."

I should hope so.

Light ignored Ryuk sniggered behind him and set Charm to Maximum.

***

Light was finally rescued from the now suitably awed parents of Naomi Misora by Hideki Ide wanting to take his statement. Light left with Ide where they talked privately in one of the adjoining rooms.
Ide scowled as Light admitted to lying to the doctors so he could ride along.

"I just wanted to make sure she was alright."

Well that's understandable… and according to one of the doctors on sight he stopped one of the nurses from making a fatal mistake.

As Light generously donated his now bloody white coat to their investigation (having removed all scraps of the Death Note while in the bathroom earlier) he looked troubled.

"The poor girl. What kind of animal does that?"

Ide put a comforting hand on Light's shoulder (much to Light's annoyance) thinking how Chief Yagami's son was so soft-hearted. Poor kid. Well, given his family's chosen career path, he'll be exposed to much more violence and even death soon enough. It'll either make or break him… and even if he can't make it he'd probably make a good doctor from the sounds of it.

"…You know at first I wasn't sure, I often heard about how those office romances turn out, but after talking with him… yes that boy's a keeper."

Naomi blinked groggily, her eyes screaming against the painful brightness of the room.

"Mom?"

"Honey, you're awake!"

"We were so worried,"

"Not so rough, Katsumi. She's been through a lot" grumbled Isamu.

"I'm not made of glass, dad… and where's my phone? I need to make a call."

"No. Absolutely not!"

"Mom!" Naomi suddenly felt like she was twelve again and had just ruined best her skirt roughhousing with the boys.

"It's that horrible L again, isn't it? Making you go on all those dangerous missions!"

"He didn't make me do anything! …Dad, please, I need to call the Taskforce, right now."

Her dad gave an apologetic look. "Sorry honey… Hey, guess what, we finally met Raye."

Raye? That's impossible. You'll never meet Raye now. Raye's dead. Beyond… Beyond cut him up… Beyond. L! I have to warn L!

"He's waiting for you outside" her father continued gently, "we'll leave you two love-birds alone."
Katsumi all but pushed Light into the room.

"You just concentrate on getting better Naomi…. So that you two can hurry up and get to work on my grandkids!"

"Yes, thank you Okaa-san," Light murmured.

Naomi was glaring at him hatefully.

Light had the good grace to look sheepish, he put his hand on the back of his neck and began with "I'm sorry," Naomi gave no reaction other than to continue to stare.

"I'm really sorry, Naomi Misora-san." he tried again.

"You-you told my parents that you…"

"I didn't, honest. They just assumed…" and I just never corrected them.

"Who are you!? How the hell do you even know my name?"

"Your wallet, I checked it when you passed out. What? I needed to know if you had any medical issues to tell the doctors."

"I hid my wallet."

"Yeah, that was brilliant, the way you hid it. I doubt anyone else would have been able to find it…" Naomi continued to glare. Light cleared his throat. "Sorry. I'm Light Yagami. My father is Chief Souichiro Yagami, the Chief of the NPA. I was the one that found you… and I couldn't help but overhearing…" that you work for L… "you have urgent information for the Taskforce? I can pass your message on to him…"

Those were the magic words… Naomi grasped at this lifeline, (smarmy as he was.)

Also…

When she spoke with Light… she almost got the same feeling as when she was talking to L. (It was uncanny…)

"The man…" she began "the man who did this to me… I was not his true target."

Light was all ears.

"You're dad's in charge of the Taskforce? He may be in danger too." Light did not try to disguise his feelings of panic; this gave Naomi the incentive to go through with it. "404 Wara Ningyo. Tell your dad, or the Taskforce. L will know what it means."

I'd better relay her message now (and hope it has nothing to do with Kira.) It would be suspicious to delay…

Light retrieved his cell phone from his pocket and called his father. "Huh, it keeps going to voicemail… Maybe he's in a meeting?"

Light could feel Naomi's eyes on him. She was suspicious again. Other than the alleged L, he had never met anyone so paranoid.

"You know what? I can go to the station right now, if you'd like, and tell them there? Here's my number, in case you need anything."

Naomi was touched by Light's concern. She was being quite unfair to this helpful young man. It wasn't his fault she'd gone through hell. "Thank you."

"No problem. Maybe see you around?"

"Yeah."

In a peculiar moment she grabbed him with her good hand and held his for a moment before he gently pulled away.

"I-I have to go tell them..."

"Yeah," Naomi sunk down into the mattress, feeling oddly disappointed. "See you later."

Fortune is in my favor today. Now I can research what the message actually means first before deciding whether or not to pass it on. I probably should though…. After all, I have only 39 days to win her trust…

…Though killing her is always an option…