Ryuk was walking through Hibiya Park. He was young, he was tall, he was... alive! This was many years ago when Ryuk had moved over the earth instead of the spiritual realm. This was when Ryuk was a real, living person.
Even in life, he had been huge. He had spiky, black hair; a long, ghoulish face even then; eyes as red as burgundy; and a thin, malicious smile. At the moment, he paused in front of an outside display. It was round and flat, with calm, peaceful waters, and a strange art piece in the middle. It looked like some kind of abstract pirate ship to him. He snickered, if only to himself. His reason? None. Ryuk didn't need a reason to snicker. He never needed a reason to snicker.
The world was a playground to Ryuk. He didn't have a bad family. He didn't have bad friends. He didn't have a bad life. He was just simply a bad guy, with a penchant for being mischievous. His parents were actually very loving, he had very supportive siblings and many of them, his friends were all high achievers and sweet people, he had never been in trouble with the law except for a couple of incidents of minor graffiti... Ryuk had always evaded everything that was ill. At least, what could be considered ill in his direction. Ryuk ultimately didn't understand the difference between right and wrong, and, while he had an innocent nature, was always up to some trouble or another. But he had the greatest luck and skill at not getting caught. By anyone. He just had the greatest luck in life in general. He always attributed his luck to an old omamori charm that he wore on his belt.
It was a small, tattered, red cloth bag with a Maneki-neko stitched on it. Inside, was sealed a prayer that had never been taken out, lest the omamori lose its power. His grandmother had given it to him when he was a child to help him pass an exam at school, Ryuk had fallen in love with the image of the cat, and ever since then he had kept it instead of burning it at a shrine. He never wanted to part with his special omamori. He full heartedly believed that the kami that had given that cloth bag power, still gave it power even to this day. That it never wore off. It was what lead him through life, he would bet his heart and soul on it.
Like he often did, Ryuk idly fiddled with the bag at his belt, smiling as he thought of all the good luck that it brought him. Then he turned back to the waters and let his eyes drift over the small, little collective form they made on the ground, captured in a small, little round pool made of concrete, yellow and red flowers all around it. He was always going for a walk, trying to find his ikigai. Ikigai was the Japanese concept of living for a purpose. The young man had thought that he had found it, for the most part, but was never certain. After all, he still wasn't quite sure what kind of career that he wanted, only that he wanted something in mathematics.
But what would he do with it? Ryuk had, had strange marks in school. He was a high achiever in many ways, and then he couldn't help but lag behind in certain subjects. No amount of studying could ever make up for his failures. But he was not a lazy man. He was merely an uncertain man. Already, he was in his early twenties, and he was still struggling to understand what his path was in life. He was in graduate school and was almost done, yet he did not know what to do with his degree once he earned it. All he knew was that he loved doing mathematical problems, and that he could do them endlessly. It was the thing that he was the best at. Admittedly, he had a short attention span, and, as long as someone was telling him what to do, then he could easily complete a task. As long as it was mathematical. And especially if it was scientific.
His parents were proud of him. His siblings were envious of his drive. His friends craved his high abilities at his chosen profession. He was bright at what he did, and promising. The whole world was at his feet for the taking. Ryuk could have had whatever he wanted, despite his shortcomings, and he could have excelled in all areas of his life.
But that was all about to change.
Ryuk left the little pool, and started towards the street, walking along the sidewalk. There were many people around him. It was daylight. He calmly went along, the tall buildings towering above him. Each simple step was like a thunderous warning into the future, like a bell clanging helplessly in a church or someone lost in a crowd shouting for their friends. One step in front of the other, each step bringing him closer and closer to his destiny. And it wasn't a destiny full of mathematics or science. One step in front of another, each step, one step, two steps, each step...
Suddenly, there was a loud, roaring sound to the side, as a car lost control of its brakes and went flying across the pavement. It spun, dangerously going round and round, and...
Ryuk's eyes went wide. He panicked.
There was a great, terrible pain throughout his body and everything went black.
Sometimes, we are able to reach our dreams. We are able to find our purpose in life and achieve it. We are able to find our ikigai. But sometimes, we fail. We are not able to discover the meaning of our lives and we cannot obtain that golden glory that lingers in everyone's life as a possibility. We are unable to reach our full potential, and sometimes, this is brought on by death.
For a reason that Ryuk never understood, for he had always considered his soul pure enough, the young man became a Shinigami. And, for the rest of his days, he prowled over the streets of Tokyo, taking the souls of the dying to the beyond. In secret, hidden away from the rest of the Shinigami, he always held onto his mathematics. And, in secret, hidden away from the rest of the Shinigami, he always idly fiddled with the omamori at his belt, when he would smile at the good luck that he still believed it brought him.